Since the department's air services school at Ottawa Airport began training radio operators four years ago, 27 classes have been held and more than 500 students have graduated as Radio Operators 1. These former students now serve the department in all six air services regions across the country.


Each course is of 18 weeks duration and includes meteorological training, radio operating (which involves mastering a typing speed of 35 words per minute and copying morse code directly on typewriter or teletype), and familiarization with such navigational aids as VOR, ILS, Decca, Loran, Radar and air traffic control. Operation procedures for radio operators are numerous and complex. A thorough understanding is essential for the efficient handling of communications designed to maintain the safety of aircraft and ships.


The students are not completely new to the complexity of radio operations when they enroll in one of D.O.T.'s courses. Each must have had some prior training or experience at a radio college or technical school before being accepted. And because they are qualified to some degree they are paid $325 a month-the rate for Radio Operator 1-during their departmental training period.


One of the highlights of each course is a familiarization flight to Montreal and back in a D.O.T. DC-3. This flight usually takes place a few weeks prior to graduation and allows the students to gain first-hand knowledge of many of their text book experiences.


CF-DTB, the plane generally used, has been specially equipped with a transistorized amplifier which operates 12 individual head sets from the craft's communication system. Students can tune in on everything the pilot says and hears, which gives them a good understanding of flight operations. As well, the instructor accompanying the students can shut out the pilot and talk to the students through an amplifier.


However, all the action and interest of these trips isn't confined to the air. Once at Montreal, where they make an ILS or SRA approach depending on weather conditions, the students spend several hours visiting the airport and its facilities-air traffic control, meteorological and telecommunications.


News on the DOT decided to go along on one of these Montreal junkets and chose to accompany the group of students which included D.O.T. Radio Operator No. 500 - Gilles St. Pierre.


Gilles, who is a native of Montreal, was posted to Sept Isles marine /aeradio station when he graduated early this Spring, but like his fellow classmates and those who graduated before him, he won't forget the flight to Montreal which was his first chance to see a major, busy centre in operation.


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