In 1960 Single Side Band (SSB) signals could be heard on the ham bands but standard Amplitude Modulation (AM) was still the most popular mode of voice transmission. There were arguments as to the value of SSB over AM (SSB is a modified standard AM signal). Quality of the sound was one major objection to SSB while cost and complexity of equipment for transmission and reception was another. But change was, and still is, inevitable thus SSB quickly grew to the point where it became the normal and AM (sometimes called Ancient Modulation) became the rare mode of communications.

After WWII amateur radio operators began to experiment with SSB on the air.  While there were very few operators on SSB by 1950 two hams who were pilots in the United States Air Force were among those few.

Up to 1950 the United States Air Force bombers carried a radio operator to maintain communications. This meant an extra person, thus that much less payload could be carried and extra fuel was needed. It also required the operator to receive a message and passing that information on to the pilot or other crew member for whom it was intended. The reverse was also true; the radio operator took the message and sent it to the intended recipient’s radio operator. With the advent of the B52 jet bomber communication speed needed to increase to accommodate the increased speed of the aircraft’s movement. The middle man, the radio operator, became the target for elimination.

Two Generals in the United States Air Force, General Curtis E. LeMay W6EZV and Lt. General Francis H. Griswold K0DWC, addressed this problem by placing SSB amateur radio stations in two B52 bombers. By this they were able to show the value of long-range HF voice communications that allowed the crew to communicate directly without a radioman using CW.

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  1. Rafaela says:

    I had a great time operating in the Salmon Run with the N7PP consett club in 2007. We broke the all time record score held by my consetting Elmer, K7QQ. It took two stations and five operators in a rare county compared to his single operator station to do it though!

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