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"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan 373, February 17, 2002

Cayman Islands Historical Review

The Cayman Islands are located in the central Caribbean, almost half way between Cuba and Central America. There are three major islands in the Cayman group: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman.

The total population in the Cayman Islands is a little over 10,000, and the capital is Georgetown, on Grand Cayman. These islands are a popular tourist destination, particularly for Americans who wish to escape the cold northern winter.

The first European explorer to discover the Cayman Islands was the famous navigator Christopher Columbus, who visited the Caymans on his last Caribbean journey in May 1503. The Cayman Islands are a dependency of Great Britain, and the name "Cayman" is derived from an old Spanish word meaning "alligator".

Radio broadcasting came very late to the Cayman Islands, and up until the early 1970's, local residents had to tune their radio receivers to stations in other nearby countries, such as Jamaica and Miami for programming in English, or Cuba and Central America for programming in Spanish.

The first radio station in the Cayman Islands was an educational FM station with 100 watts on 101.1 MHz which was opened somewhere around 1973. This station identifies on air as ICCI-FM, and it is owned and operated by the International College on Grand Cayman. A commercial FM station, ZFZZ, with 15 kW on 99.9 MHz, made its first appearance in 1997.

Radio Cayman in Georgetown is first listed in the World Radio TV Handbook for the year 1976, with three transmitters: 10 kW on 1555 kHz, 1 kW on 1205 kHz, and 250 watts on 105.3 MHz FM. According to a 1981 letter from Loxley Banks, the Director of Broadcasting, their station began broadcasting in December 1976. Additional test broadcasts began in April 1977, and the station was officially inaugurated three months later on July 13, 1977.

The 10 kW mediumwave transmitter at Gun Bluff on 1555 kHz was closed eight years ago due to the cost of operating the facility, and the fact that the transmitter area became built up with housing domains. The old and ailing 1 kW unit on 1205 kHz was closed just three years ago. Radio Cayman is on the air these days from just four FM transmitters at two different locations: Georgetown on Grand Cayman, and Cayman Brac.

During the nearly quarter century that the mediumwave units were on the air, this station was heard widely throughout the Caribbean, and at times in the United States, and occasionally even in Europe and the South Pacific. The station always verified reception reports with a courteous letter in English. The AWR collection contains two verification letters from Radio Cayman, each signed by Loxley Banks, the Director of Broadcasting.

Listener Update - The Flight of the Blue Eagle

During the past quarter century, AWR has broadcast more than 1,000 editions of the two major DX programs, "Radio Monitors International" and "Wavescan". The first edition of the old DX program, "Radio Monitors International", went on the air from the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday, June 1, 1975. This global DX program was updated, renamed as "Wavescan", and relaunched seven years ago on January 1, 1995.

One of the very pleasing aspects associated with presenting a regular DX program on a global scale is the listener response. Quite frequently, listeners write in, by postal mail or by email, and they provide additional information about a topic that they heard in our program.

In recent time we have received several significant responses of this nature, containing some very interesting and important information, supplementing what we have already presented. In this edition of Wavescan, we present the response from a listener who was personally involved with the Flight of the Blue Eagle.

He is Steve Robbins in the United States, who read the script of Wavescan edition WS359 on the web site CRW. The topic on this occasion was the "Flight of the Blue Eagle", which presented the story of American shortwave broadcasting from airplanes. In his report, Steve Robbins states that he was one of the engineers who designed, fabricated, and operated "Project Jenny". Here is his summary:

1962: The two original C-118 aircraft were based out of NAS Patuxent River in Maryland, and the electronic equipment was temporarily installed in the two aircraft, numbered 611 and 429. These two planes carried radio relays for listeners in Cuba.

1965: The electronic equipment was re-installed into two Super Constellation aircraft, and test broadcasts were made over the DC-Maryland areas with identification announcements as "Blue Eagle". Steve Robbins was on this aircraft at the time.

1966: Four of the Blue Eagle aircraft were flown out to Vietnam, where they relayed programming in English and Vietnamese. When the 50 kW VOA mediumwave station at Hue in central Vietnam was raided and captured by the North Vietnamese, the Blue Eagle took over the relay of VOA programming on the same channel, 760 kHz.

After the Vietnam War, the broadcast equipment was removed from the older aircraft and fitted into new aircraft of the same type, Super Constellation, and they were re-designated as "Coronet Solo". Several years later again, new and updated aircraft were commissioned and they have been on the air in recent time over Serbia and Afghanistan as "Command Solo".

If you access the web site of the Clandestine Radio Watch, you will see reference to several QSLs received by listeners in Europe and the United States. Our thanks for these personal memoirs to Steve Robbins who was in the air and on the air with the "Flight of the Blue Eagle".