The demise of Airmet


Gordon Currie is not alone in his nostalgic memories of Airmet broadcasts and their somewhat mournful interval signal.

I first came across them in early 1947, and soon realised that there were sufficient station reports to allow the compilation of one's own synoptic charts. To someone with a keen interest in weather it was exciting to be able to follow developing situations hour by hour, and record them on paper if desired. It was the immediacy of this that appealed in days long before home computers. I still have memo pads with daily records of 1947, and was intrigued at the time to find that the pressure situation (a high over Scandinavia) which generated the heat waves of August was similar to that associated with the very severe winter earlier that same year.

The closure of Airmet, with only four days notice, provoked some lively correspondence in successive editions of Weather in 1950, which I still have. There was even a letter from the Air Ministry (MacBride, 1950) to the Copenhagen Broadcasting Convention, who presumably were responsible for the allocation of wavelengths, as well as a petition (Weather editors, 1950) – all to no avail. No place could be found for this service, nor ever anything like it in the way of continuous live voice transmission as distinct from the current automated Volmet-type stations on airband radio. I wonder whether the (eventual) advent of digital radio could facilitate the inauguration of what Mr Currie calls a continuous straight-talking broad-casting service which might meet present day needs.