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 (aka 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 2019, the AOPA estimated a total
of around 220k
private aircraft (down from
224k in 2011), with 720k currently
licensed pilots (all categories) 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
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 prices.
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 antenna systems.
(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
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