Memorable QSOs with Amateur Radio
by John Reisenauer, Jr. KL7JR
I consider myself very fortunate to have enjoyed some memorable ham radio QSOs over the years. I'll tell you about a few and save the very best for last.
In early 1990 from Anchorage, Alaska I worked a Russian scientist on 10m almost daily from his floating ice island (floating Ice Station Raushia) off Siberia. I got to know operator Sasha for 3 months until he went silent for a few days.
Finally on sked he gave me a call to tell me the iceberg had cracked in two and he had to cut his coax and watch the antennas float away.
Then there was the time I was guest operator at club station VY1DX in Whitehorse, Yukon and in competition with the gun range next door. It was quite comical. Often times on the air I had to explain the loud gun shots.
Then from Anchorage there was the QSO with a pair of missionary hams who had to fire warning shots at a crocodile that got too close to their boat on the Congo River. One ham explained what the loud "bang bang" was.
Or the time I was operating in the Arctic Ocean on Barter Island, Alaska when a polar bear was looking through the frosty window at me! I guess he considered me a Big Mac, hi hi! The local natives quickly scared the big white bear away with fire crackers.
In late 1994 (pre-cell phone era), I was involved in a Mayday situation on Atlin Lake, British Columbia. We, my son-in-law Will and the entire boat including the captain's elderly family, were in trouble 15 miles from civilization, Atlin. Like a cork in an angry swimming pool, a tornado like wind was blowing our 30 foot boat closer to the rocky shoreline. Too close for comfort. The boat's motor had stalled 20 minutes before and the VHF radio did not work, so ham radio to the rescue! I was able to reach my friend AA5AT in LA on 20 meters to call the RCMP for help. An hour later we were towed back to Atlin. The captain was amazed how we got rescued and vowed never to take the boat out without first checking the radio!
Then in the spring of 2005 I met a 14 year old boy on 10 meters when I was on Kluane Lake in the Yukon. I do not remember his novice call but have not forgotten the note I received from his mother a few weeks later. I knew someone desperately wanted to contact me but I just could not pull out a complete call sign on a crowded noisy band. After a good 5 minutes of "please repeat your call, you are 3x3 with me".
Then I finally heard him and exchanged names and better signal reports. His mother then took over the mic to tell me Bobby had been chasing "Yukon John" for 3 days on 10 meters and was so thrilled I took time to talk to him that he was speechless.
I was deeply touched and promised to send my QSL and photos of my operating position when I returned home. She said all the while I talked to her explaining the highlights of my trip, where I was, poor band conditions and so forth, his face just glowed!
When I returned back to Anchorage I immediately fired off my QSL and a bunch of pictures to Bobby. A few weeks later, I received a thank you note from his mother explaining Bobby had severe MS and other complications and how excited he was, and told everyone he came in contact with, about his new friend in the Yukon. She said he carried my QSL and pictures everywhere!
She ended the note saying "thank you so much for making my little boy very happy". I was saddened to learn Bobby became a SK.
Amateur Radio is not only a fun hobby but sometimes it also reminds us of what's really important in life.
I know it did me. 73 KL7JR
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