Dick Sisson W5ONL – SK

We were sad to lose long-time club member John S. “Dick” Sisson on July 18 2021 from a heart attack. He was 87. Dick was one of the club’s most proficient CW operators and enjoyed operating during the club’s Field Day outings.

Dick was first licensed as a ham at age 14 and, upon reaching age 16 and getting his driver’s license, proceeded to build a setup so he could run CW mobile.

“I built a small crystal-controlled rig using a single 6146 final, with the idea of putting it in the family car, a 1949 Ford, as another CW mobile. It was powered by a war surplus PE-103 dynamotor. I also built a small BFO and installed it in the car’s AM broadcast radio. I bought a Gonset converter and inserted it ahead of the car’s radio to enable it to cover the amateur bands. None of this affected our being able to use the car’s radio on the broadcast band.”

Dick was a long-time employee of Collins Radio and held several positions that allowed him to travel and operate around the world. He held the following callsigns at one time or another: W5ONL (his original call sign, circa 1948, that he got back later); W8FFL; K0HEM; WA2GWF (later re-issued); W4WZC; VK8AF (later re-issued); W5ONL/HB; W5ONL/HB0; W5ONL/VE3.

“Another of my System Support assignments with Collins Radio involved the Collins C-8500 computer System for Dow Chemical Europe at their facility in Horgen, Switzerland, a suburb of Zurich.

As usual, I wanted to use some of my free time while in Switzerland operating an amateur radio station. In advance of my trip, I contacted the authorities and obtained a license to operate as W5ONL/HB from a location high in the Alps. i also wanted to make a weekend DXpedition to Liechtenstein while I was so close by. I looked up one of the handful of resident radio amateurs, Hugo Hilti, HB0LL, in the Callbook, and contacted him. Hugo was quite interested in what I had in mind, and made his ham station and antenna available to me to use for a Saturday afternoon.. Getting official permission turned out to be no problem.

It was only about a 90 mile drive from Zurich to Schaan, Liechtenstein. It was a cloudy, rainy day, and a lone, slicker-clad guard was on duty when I crossed the border. Furstentum Liechtenstein is about the same size as DFW airport, and crossing the border from Switzerland was quite simple.

Finding Hugo’s house in Schaan turned out to be quite simple, also.  Apparently, he had been having some TVI problems with the neighbors, and he asked me to confine my operation to 20 meter SSB. I found a clear spot just above 14200 kHz and called CQ as W5ONL/HB0 with his Yagi pointed at North America. That was all it took for the rest of the afternoon. Afterward, I thanked Hugo and his family for their hospitality, and returned to Zurich. Thus ended the weekend DXpedition to Liechtenstein, a highlight of my time in Switzerland”

We will miss Dick’s enthusiasm and his CW expertise…