My First Field Day

I wasn’t even a licensed ham when I attended my first Field Day in June 1969. That’s because I was still eagerly awaiting my Novice license to arrive from the FCC.

Back in the day, it took a long time from when you passed your exam until you received your paper license in the mail; my first license took eight excruciatingly long weeks to arrive. At the time, you weren’t allowed to operate until you had that piece of paper in hand, even though I knew what my call sign would be, as “The Little Print Shop,” a well-known purveyor of QSL cards, somehow had supernatural knowledge of the situation and mailed me a nice package of sample QSLs. It was addressed to me along with the moniker “WN6FZN” and arrived several days before my official license did.

My first QSL card as WN6FZN.

My first brief introduction to ham radio was in middle school when a friend lent me his copy of the ARRL license manual. Unfortunately, there was no local ham or anyone at my school to act as a mentor, but I was hooked—I knew someday I’d be a ham!

My real gateway to amateur radio was in my high school electronics shop where the Redwood High School Amateur Radio Club, WB6NVY, resided in a corner office.

My first QSL card as WN6FZN.

MTruman Whorton, WB6QFV (SK), a veteran U.S. Navy electronics technician, was our electronics teacher and very first ham mentor all rolled into one. There I learned the “one hand behind your back” rule the hard way when working with high voltage; that darn B+ line on the Novice transmitter I was building got the best of me one day. Fortunately, I lived to tell the tale and was later rewarded with my first real shack.

On that first Field Day, we set up on top of a bare hill in Tiburon, California, under surplus Army-style tents and a noisy generator (Truman still had friends in the Navy). We erected an HF Yagi antenna (below) and operated overnight, sleeping only for short bursts in sleeping bags on the ground. I must have liked it, as I ended up as a soldier for 26 years doing something strikingly similar!

I so wanted to operate that Heathkit SB-101! Fortunately, I got on the air under the control operator’s tutelage that weekend and began a journey that has been the better part of my life for over 51 years.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any real clear memories of the event, simply the nostalgic feelings of knowing I was there in the tent late at night and how important that single weekend would be in my life. Now, so many years later, along with my better half, Toby, KLØSS, we continue to share our mutual love of the hobby together.

KL0S and KL0SS today.


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