We had 15 check-ins, including a WinLink liaison station who brought one message to me personally.
We had an excellent question from a newly licensed ham who wants to do things to help the community, but was wondering what he can do with his limited range and is technician license. I let him know that the UHF Link system covers about 50,000 sq miles and he can help with anything in that coverage area. Giving those folks something new (old) to do is one of my primary goals with the net. If we have a communications emergency in all or part of the Link System coverage area, I’d say NTS could be quite busy. If there is a problem elsewhere, messages may arrive via NTS and need local telephone delivery to advise family/friends of the sender’s status (welfare), again here we are! I also pointed him at ARES if he wants to help beyond traffic handling.
This provided a great transition into my planned topic, how someone who isn’t “into” traffic handling (yet?) can still use the National Traffic System. Simply bring the message to this net or any other net handling NTS traffic and any traffic handler will be happy to help you compose a message and then take that message into the system. You need the addressee’s permission to send them a message (so they don’t think the random ham that is calling them on the phone is a crank call), you need a full name and postal address including zip (to disambigufy the addressee), an amateur call sign if they have one and, most importantly a telephone number. The addressee needs to know that this information will be transmitted by amateur radio multiple times as the message moves though the system, so don’t send unless they are okay with this. Telephone is the primary final delivery method of the NTS in locations are that not suffering a communications failure. You then need up to 25 words of text (keep it simple please) and your signature information, which would include your named, callsign and telephone number (which would be used by a traffic handler to advise you of delivery problems).