The Thrill of wireless

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Saturday, 17 November 2012

Ham radio fan saves U.S. bacon by spotting Sandy mayday call Read more:

Ham radio fan saves U.S. bacon by spotting Sandy mayday call Read more:

HUNDREDS of lives may have been saved on the night Superstorm Sandy hit America — by an Irishman in his shed.

Amateur radio fan Benny Young, from Tyrone, was tuning in on his hut-based hobby when he heard a ‘mayday’ call from a plane over the Atlantic.
But the United Airlines captain, en route from Dublin to Boston, wasn’t able to reach flight controllers in the US.
Benny, 29, picked up the pilot’s distress call and managed to get it passed on to emergency services.
The Castlederg man recalled: “I heard two people talking about Hurricane Sandy.
“That’s what made me stay on the frequency and I heard the Mayday call.
“They must have thought they were going to be able to land before the weather turned.
“Then the storm arrived and they didn’t think they were going to reach Boston at all.”

Luckily Benny was at the end of his receiver and was able to communicate with the stricken flight. He revealed: “I ended up talking to the pilot for about 17 minutes and I got the man operating the emergency net to come up to my frequency.
“The flight couldn’t hear anything on the ground. He could hear me, but he couldn’t hear the pilot because of a problem with the transponders on the ground which had been taken out by the storm.
“We were able to get the plane diverted because the winds were measured at 95 miles an hour at Boston.”
And Benny’s radio rescue act didn’t end there — because he also managed to help another plane over the United States on the same night.
He said: “The other plane automatically scanned the frequencies and must have found us.”
“I didn’t have the time to strike up a conversation this time.
“There was great excitement at the time, it was great. I felt good after it anyway.
“It was one of those freak incidents. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”
Terry Whyte of Strabane Amateur Radio Society said: “Certain stations are set aside on these bands and Benny was at the right frequency at the right time.
“He recorded everything in his log, but we still gave him a good grilling at the last club meeting. In fact, everyone else is jealous.
“This kind of thing is an amateur radio man’s dream.”

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