October 1937 Radio-Craft
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
As a life-long aircraft enthusiast, my attention
is always drawn to photos, drawings, and titles in articles dealing with any aspect - but
particularly a historical aspect - of aviation. This 1937 edition of Radio-Craft magazine
reported on the fledgling field of aircraft radio maintenance, and in particular the opportunities
presented to radio repairmen. Aircraft electronics - avionics - have of course changed
significantly over the last 80 years. Accordingly, maintenance has become such a highly specialized
skill that other than swapping out entire pieces of equipment, relatively few facilities exist that
are qualified for the task. According to the article, at the time there were a mere 5k
privately owned airplanes. As of 2011, the AOPA estimated a total of around 224k
private aircraft, with 590k currently licensed pilots per the FAA.
The Aircraft-Radio Service Man
N. H. Lessem
Most radio Service Men fail to realize the excellent business prospects that lie in "private" aviation
- per the author's Table I.
Millions of dollars
have been spent and are being spent in developing aviation; radio facilities constitute one of the major
factors in dependable aircraft operation that has received more than its share of financial backing.
As a result, intensive work by "flying laboratories" and land crews connected with the larger transport
companies has produced discoveries and equipment of great importance. Radio has greatly increased the
dependability of commercial air travel, and the basic new developments of the large aviation companies
are gradually being adapted to the needs of the private flyer.
At left is reproduced a suggestion, by Radio-Craft, that appears in colors on the cover of this month's
issue, which portrays only one activity of the aircraft-radio Service Man. (See Table I - "Sources of
Revenue for the Aviation-Radio Service Man" - for a more representative, visualization of the subject.)
We wish to point out at this time that, merely because the number of aviation-radio receivers in
use is small compared with the number of home-radio sets, it should not be pre-supposed an excellent
living cannot be made servicing aviation-radio equipment. In the first place it is almost a matter of
life and death to maintain the radio equipment in perfect operation; regardless of the cost, within
reasonable limits, this apparatus must be kept in perfect shape, and therefore since the servicing demands
are relatively limited it becomes evident that this type of radio servicing commands considerably better
Equipment Requiring Service
The itinerant flyer may have in his plane only the simplest
of radio equipment - perhaps only an aviation weather broadcast receiver and not even a transmitter.
On the other hand, his equipment may be so comprehensive as to include a beacon receiver, aviation weather
receiver, and a so-called auxiliary beacon receiver capable of all-wave reception and thus permitting
reception of broadcast programs; and, a directional-loop antenna that in conjunction with one or another
receiving sets permits taking cross-bearings from either beacons or broadcast-station signals. This
receiving equipment plus a 1- or 2-way transmitter for both code and telephone operation may comprise
the more inclusive radio set-up.
The Department of Commerce reports that there are approximately
1,000 private and public landing fields (soon, many more - including emergency landing fields - will
dot the land); and approximately 4,750 privately-operated airplanes. Since all the commercial airplanes
have their own radio service crews it is unlikely that the average aviation-radio Service Man will have
much opportunity to make repairs to the radio equipment of such installations - except, perhaps, in
a case of extreme emergency.
(1) Servicing existing radio receiving and transmitting equipment, including the power supplies and
(2) Modernizing existing radio equipment to include additional services, such as pilot-to-copilot
(or passenger) communication system, directional-loop antenna, extended frequency range, etc.
(3) Locating and minimizing or eliminating ignition interference.
(4) Sale of replacement components.
(5) Sale of new transmitting and receiving equipment.
(6) Custom construction of radio transmitting and receiving equipment.
Table I - Sources of Revenue for the Aviation-Radio Service
Space does not permit the lengthy discussion that would be necessary to completely analyze the faults
and remedial measures connected with private-aviation radio servicing - books have been written on this
subject alone - suffice it to say that antenna and counterpoise systems, battery - and generator-operated
radio transmitters and receivers and their respective types of current-supply systems; and even in the
more modern installations, private communication systems between pilot and co-pilot or passenger, all
come within the range of equipment that must be kept in top-notch condition, regardless of (reasonable)
expense, by competent radio Service Men.
Posted September 15, 2016