Amateur Radio And SKYWARN

Amateur Radio And SKYWARN

I earned my first Amateur(ham) Radio license, a Novice Class, while attending DeVry Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois, in late 1977.  While still in Chicago, I upgraded to a Technician Class license, in early 1978.  My callsign at that time was WD9IKF.  I currently hold an Extra Class license, which I upgraded to in 1992, and I had my callsign changed to N9GHZ in 1987.

When I moved back up to Northcentral Wisconsin in Spring, 1978, I became active with a local Amateur Radio organization(club), the Black River Area Radio Association(known at the time as the Taylor County Area Amateur Radio Club).

Over the subsequent years, at various times, I served as both the secretary(since about 1982), and/or president(since about 1982), of that organization.

During that time, I also joined(and belonged to) the American Radio Relay League(ARRL), a nationwide organization of Amateur Radio operators.   I subsequently was appointed as an ARRL Public Information Assistant(PIA) for the Wisconsin Section in April, 1988, and an ARRL ARES Emergency Coordinator(EC) for Taylor County in June, 1988, and for Clark County in August, 1989.

During the proceeding years, I was involved in organizing and overseeing Amateur Radio support communications for various events, including the annual Abbotsford Christmas Parade; the "Tombstone Pizza 10" fun run/5 & 10K footrace(Medford, WI); the Medford Kiwanis Club "J.A. O'Leary Memorial Bike Race & Tour"(Medford, WI); the "P-Town Tramp" snowshoe races"(near Perkinstown, WI, in Taylor County); the "Buzzard Buster" mountain bike races(near Hatfield, WI, in Clark County); the American Cancer Society's "Making Strides Against Cancer" Walkathon(Medford, WI); the "Abby Flatlander"(a foot race in Abbotsford, WI); and many other activities.

I was also very involved as a SKYWARN storm spotter for the National Weather Service(NWS).

I've also been a volunteer instructor of Amateur Radio license exam preparation classes and, over the years(going as far back as appx. 1982), I have helped dozens of people, including many young people, prepare for, and pass, the exams they needed to earn their own Amateur Radio licenses.  In later years, when the FCC turned responsibility for administering those examinations over to the Amateur Radio community themselves, I became an ARRL-registered Volunteer Examiner(VE).  As a VE, I am authorized to assist with administering those exams.  I have been a VE since at least 1989.

One of the highlights, thus far, of my Amateur Radio "career", was making 2-way radio contacts with Owen Garriott(W5LFL), an astronaut(and ham radio operator) aboard the space shuttle Columbia(STS-9), in late Fall of 1983, and with Alexsandr Volkov(U4MIR), a cosmonaut(and a ham radio operator) aboard the Soviet space station MIR on April 12, 1989.  In addition, in the Summer of 1985, I was able to receive, and record, audio signals from Tony England(W0ORE), an astronaut(and a ham radio operator) on board the space shuttle Challenger(STS-51F).  He was using a 2-meter band radio frequency to send slow-scan Amateur TV signals back to earth.  While I did not possess the equipment myself to enable me to view the images "real-time", I was able to forward the audio tape recording to a friend and fellow Amateur Radio operator, Dean Andrewjeski(AD9W), of Mosinee, WI, who, in turn, sent my audio tape to an Amateur Radio operator from Iowa, who was able to convert my audio recordings to video, and recorded a videotape of the images, which I eventually received.  What a thrill to actually see Tony England live from the space shuttle, while in orbit!

Another highlight, for me, was when one of my "former students", Scott Young(N9FZS) was awarded the ARRL's Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial annual award at an ARRL Central Division Convention in St. Charles, Illinois, in the Fall of 1987.  The Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Award is given annually to a licensed radio amateur under the age of 21 and their accomplishments and contributions to both the community of Amateur Radio and the local community should be of the most exemplary nature.  Scott was in competition with other individuals from across the country.

Scott took an
Amateur Radio license exam preparation course that I taught, and passed his first exam for a license, in approximately 1984, while he was still living in Colby, WI, and a student at Colby public schools.  After graduating from Colby High School in 1987, he went on to attend, and graduated from, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, where he studied electrical engineering.  Scott now lives in southern California, where he was part owner of a company that designed control panels for other companies.

To this day, I am still somewhat active in Amateur Radio, although, after having suffered a stroke in June of 2010, and my speech impediment(which causes me to stutter and stammer quite a bit), which followed, I have slowed down my activities drastically.  For one thing, I no longer teach(instruct) Amateur Radio license exam preparation classes. 

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