Have you ever heard of the NTS Traffic Network? Did you know that you can send a message to anyone in the USA or Canada for free through Amateur Radio? I did but that's about where it ended for me. Over the 16 years of being a ham, I received two messages and always wanted to join in as a message handler.
Sure, I can email or pick up my cell phone and call anywhere in the US for "free" but there is something neat about having a message transfer over radio to someone you care about, all on a volunteer network. The main goal of the NTS system is to get information in and out of a disaster area when the internet and phone lines are down. The NTS operates nets all across the US and Canada every day passing messages. The overwhelming majority of the traffic is non-emergency related but it is done for the sake of practice.
I finally got organized and decided to figure out how to check in to a local net and start my "career" as a message handler. The Iowa Tall Corn Net operates at 6:30 and 10:00 PM local so I tuned into the 10PM net and checked in! There are a lot of new Q signals that are not normally heard during a CW QSO but I managed to get the basics down. The good news is it was successful and I broke the ice! More to come as I try to check in when I am down in the radio room studying. 73 Joe N0NS