Spring 2009 Issue

A Pioneer in the Family
Jim Kmosko, W2NLY

In the Summer 2007 issue of CQ VHF, WA2VVA began his series on KH6UK. Since then those articles have brought forth communication with other hams of that era who also have much to contribute to the many areas of VHF history. In this article Mark interviewed W2NLY, and here is his story.

By Mark Morrison, WA2VVA


When CQ VHF magazine first published my articles “The Lost Letters of KH6UK” two years ago, I received many e-mails from people recalling how they once knew one or more of the hams mentioned in that series. One was Bill Musa, K5YG (ex-K2MHJ), who told me that he once worked with Jim Kmosko, W2NLY, while at Lockheed Electronics. Bill suggested that I try to contact Jim and write an article about him. I did check my local phone book, as Jim’s QTH was nearby, but was not able to find any listing.

Time went by until just recently, when Bill contacted me again about another of my articles and once more suggested I try to locate Jim. This time I did a search on QRZ.com and was happy to see that W2NLY had recently renewed his license. With Jim’s address in front of me, I then wrote him a letter introducing myself and telling him about Bill’s persistence about contacting him.

A few weeks passed without hearing anything, and then one day there was a message on my answering machine. It was from Jim! I called him back, and he invited me over to talk about the golden days of VHF radio. Considering that he knew almost everyone whom I have written about, it was a real pleasure to talk with Jim and share our memories of that time. This article is based on two separate visits I made to Jim’s house this past February and March.

Hadley Field

On the evening of July 1, 1925 a crowd of 15,000 gathered in South Plainfield, New Jersey to witness history in the making. Great arc lights illuminated the hastily constructed airstrip known as Hadley Field in anticipation of the big event. At 10:30 PM pilots Dean Smith and J. D. Hill revved the engines on their De Havilland DH-4 biplanes and took off for Chicago, loaded with mail. A chain of beacons installed just the year before, and spaced every 10 miles, showed them the way. Thus it was that the world’s first nighttime airmail service began.

In the years that followed, Hadley Field would become a fascinating place, not only for the young children who lived nearby, but also for the curious onlookers hoping to catch a glimpse of some famous aviator. This was the age of Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh, all of whom would have known this place. It was here that a young boy named James Kmosko would visit with his father, August, to watch the planes take off and land, and who would return many years later to “launch” some of the Navy’s first flight trainers.

Photo 1. Jim’s first QSL card. In 1939, at the age of 19, Jim applied for both his amateur as well as commercial radio licenses.

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