RAN Technology

A first-person history by an Airway Keeper's daughter


Vintage Radio 0 Comments 12/31/2019 

Life on the (Radio) Range at Medicine Bow WY in the 1930s

Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)

 

Most vintage radio enthusiasts are aware of how intertwined the development of radio and aviation were.   Many still enjoy using low frequency receivers and DX-ing the "beacon band" which was a key element of the first generation of aviation radio and navigation.   Before there were radio beacons, pilots depended on visual beacons - the flashing (rotating) lights we've all seen at airports but few realize just how extensive this navigation network had to be to provide guidance to early flyers, especially at night.   As technology improved, the four-course or Adcock radio range was added to supplement these visual markers.

Major airways were named in those days, this one in particular was the "Salt Lake City - Omaha" route.  Wyoming’s portion of the Salt Lake to Omaha Airway had 40 beacons spaced about 10 miles apart. The Wyoming portion of the airway closely followed the railroad tracks except between Salt Lake City and Knight and between Laramie and Cheyenne.

The beacons were numbered from west (Salt Lake) to east (Omaha). Some had names while some were only numbered.

1. Salt Lake City, Utah
2. (Wanship, Utah)
3. (Utah)
4. (Utah)
5. (Wyoming)
6. Knight, Wyoming
8. LeRoy
12. Granger
16. Rock Springs
19. Bitter Creek
22. Red Desert
24. Cherokee
27. Parco 29. Dana
31. Medicine Bow
33. Rock River
37. Laramie
38. Summit (Beacon Hill)
39. Section 33, T15N, R70W. (North of old McIntyre Ranch)
40. Silver Crown
41. Cheyenne
44. Burns
45. Pine Bluffs, Wyoming
46. Kimball, Nebraska
50. Sidney, Nebraska

A young girl in the early 1930s, Betty Jean Cruickshank, was the eldest daughter of one of the Assistant Airways Keepers hired by the Lighhouse Service of the US Department of Commerce assigned to Medicine Bow, Wyoming.   Thanks to her good memory and her father's careful preservation of a number of documents,  Betty wrote a fascinating first-person history which gives the reader a true feeling for what it was like in those early days.     There's not a lot of technical detail because that was beyond her understanding, as probably was the fact that her father was very fortunate to have a job that paid a salary of $100 a month (less a $20/mo deduction for the furnished government-supplied house that his family lived in on the airport property.    At the peak of this era of navigation there were three full-time operators who worked 12 hour shifts to provide 24/7/365 service to aviators.    Job duties included making precise weather observations, conducting radio and teletype communications, tending to the four-course radio range, and mowing the grass!   The federal government was very particular about maintenence of their properties.

Anyone interested in the early days aviation or radio history will enjoy reading Betty's history.    The historic documents provide a look into the lives of a depression-era family that was isolated geographically but thanks to an important occupation, enjoyed better fortune than many.

The following document was  written and produced by Betty Jean Cruickshank and prepared by Ann M. Kreiser 2007 in memory of Betty Jean’s father,  Edwin M. Cruickshank.   The Medicine Bow airport was shut down in 1935 but Edwin remained in a caretaker role for the new CAA until 1958 when the opeation was turned over to the county.    Enjoy this glimpse into the daily life of a civil service worker and his family in a bygone age.


Download link can be found below the photos section


Description Comment  
Edwin M. Cruickshank, Airways Keeper (PDF)

  

Remembering Michael Hopkins, AB5L (SK) - a unique individual

Founder and humble scribe for the Five Meter Liberation Army!
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
Michael Hopkins AB5L is fondly remembered by early denizens of the internet and specifically the "Boatanchors at the Porch" mail reflector.   A truly unique individual, Michael made the internet a happier place through his eclectic interests (ranging from Tecraft converters to ferrets) and his wonderful imagination and storytelling ability.  Through his writing, we le...  READ MORE
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a new AM QRP transceiver from the 4SQRP group
Category: Technical
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- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  11/12/2019 
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- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  08/02/2019 
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- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  07/20/2019 
    Finding myself in need of a tool to remove a bad bearing on a blower from a linear amplifier I first tried the usual automotive type gear puller but it wasn't able to get underneath this small 5/8" OD bearing.   So I improvised a tool that took 10 minutes to make, cost a few cents, and had the job done in no time at allThe secret is wedges sold at the home improvement stor...  READ MORE
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Vintage light aircraft radios repurposed
Category: Technical
In the early days of aviation radio, transmissions originated from the ground using the longwave transmitter also used for homing,  and pilots acknowledged by wagging their wings.  It didn't take long to realize the benefits of having transmitting capability onboard the plane as well, and the first generation of aircraft radio used the low HF band.    Given today's...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/11/2019 

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