10-10 and Lindbergh

L. B. Cebik, W4RNL (SK)

Imagine yourself on the 22nd of May, 1927, about 0200 Paris time. What would you be thinking? Much of the North American and European world was wondering whether Charles Augustus Lindbergh had successfully crossed the Atlantic solo in his Spirit of St. Louis. Somebody knew, and he was later to become a 10-10er.

That night, my father, Jim Cebik, KA1TXF, #53363, was operating under the call 1ATG from Fairfield CT (he now lives a few miles away in Stratford). For international contacts, he added the informally agreed upon prefix NU. He was in contact with 8AKL, that is, F8AKL (the "F" was also informal then) in the Paris area. The wavelength was 42 meters with minimum QRM and no QRN. The French operator sends QRX, please wait. He steps outside his shack to investigate a noise overhead. He returns to the air with the report that Lindbergh has passed overhead on his way to Le Bourget airport. Jim is quite possibly the first American on this side of the Atlantic to know that Lindbergh has made it.

F8AKL's name is illegible on the QSL card he sent. Detailed name and mailing address (not to mention county, 10-10 number, grid square, etc.) had not yet become standard parts of the card's format. Nevertheless, he confirmed passing on the information with this comment at the bottom of his card: "TNX for QSO OM--gld to kan give u news fm Lindbergh just wen is coming to Paris--PSE QSL." For both operators, the QSO was as exciting as the news of Lindbergh.

For those curious about the date and time, Lindbergh took off from the US (Roosevelt Field) at 7:52 AM EST, May 20, 1927. He flew for 33 hours and 32 minutes. In terms of Eastern time in the US, it was May 21, about half-past 5 in the early evening. In Paris, it was nearly 2 AM, the next day, give or take some looseness in log keeping in those days. (Another 1927 QSL card just lists the time as "night.")

Jim is 90 this year, still licensed, but not as active as he once was on the air. Off the air, his schedule makes me look feeble by comparison. And, yes, he clearly remembers this 1927 QSO--and many others, such as working Admiral Byrd's supply ship in the Arctic, a ship he finally set eyes on at Old Mystic Seaport in the 1950s during a family outing there.

I wonder what other historically interesting facts lie buried in the QSL cards of our members.

This item first appeared in 10-10 News, July, 1996.

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