This is what I wrote the morning of May 31, 2003, after I received an E-mail from AA0NN, telling me that Jerry Schmitt; KK5YY had become a silent key.
Dear LEO friends,
When I opened this E-mail this morning I had a difficult time emotionally. I sent a reply to John with a simple “say it isn’t so”. Jerry has been at my house, eaten at my table, knew the name of my wife, and all 8 of our children. Most of all, he taught me how to operate AO-27, and started my love for LEO satellites.
I cannot remember the exact date, but it was on one of his first of many trips to Alaska when I heard him on one of the local repeaters. I noticed the out of state call and started a QSO with him and he immediately asked me if I knew anything about amateur satellites, and in particularly AO-27. I answered that I had been reading about AO-27 and had tried to operate it, but had only heard wisp of voices and not really had a QSO. He told me that the keys to operate AO-27 were a good UHF downlink antenna and a little knowledge on how to track it. He told me that he had been working with the Arrow Antenna Company to develop a dual-band portable yagi and that he was using this new antenna and a dual-band HT to make regular contacts to the lower 48 everyday. I asked if he could show me his setup and he said he’d do one better if possible, he would like to come to Ham club meeting and give a demonstration.
I invited him to the next MARA meeting (http://www.kl7jfu.com/) and he showed up with his Arrow Antenna and I believe a Yaesu FT-530 HT. He not only gave an excellent demonstration, but he drew graphs and charts on a chalkboard and explained LEO satellite operations so thoroughly that I was hooked. The very next day I made my very first true LEO two-way contact. I used a very long M2 UHF yagi, borrowed from AA0NN as my downlink and I was hearing the bird 100%.
Jerry has been to Alaska many times and in 2001 worked as a communicator for the Iditarod Trail Sled-dog Race (http://www.iditarod.com/). He was here last year for MARA/ARRL Field Day and we had a nice visit with him and his wife. He told me of his plans to retire and move to Alaska. Jerry and I have had some late night in depth conversations and I was amazed at his great intelligence and understanding of the sciences, politics, and religion. I would say we agreed on about 90% of everything we discussed. Jerry and I had much more agreement than I have with most people that I have these types of conversations with, and I truly felt like he was a “Brother”. Most of all, he treated me as an equal.
Every time I see an Arrow Antenna, talk on a satellite, or eat Gretchen’s homemade tortillas, I’ll think of you, KK5YY, and I’ll miss you.
Dan O'Barr, KL7DR
AMSAT 24622, BP51ho
P.O. Box 873981
Wasilla, AK 99687
Home (907) 373-2569
Work/Cell (907) 841-0500
Fax (907) 357-3577