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30 Years of Ham Radio at KidVenture

By Abigail Oleniczak

July 28, 2017 - The KidVenture Ham Radio Station has been part of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh for 30 years.

Jon Oldenburg, call sign AB9AH, is the amateur radio station’s director. Located within Pioneer Airport, the station part of KidVenture is meant to encourage kids and parents to get involved with the radios, and make a contact. The station has a special event every year and assigns it a specific call sign to commemorate the occasion.

Ham radio, also known as amateur radio, consists of operating radios and building antennas. Hm radios can also use Morse code or digital modes, and many operators participate in related contests.

To become a ham radio operator, you must pass a test administered by the Federal Communications Commission. As soon as you pass your test, you will be assigned a call sign, which typically consists of five letters and one number.

When you make a contact on the radio, you can exchange QSL cards, which are similar to postcards. The radio station’s QSL cards are aviation-themed, and the station also has a certificate that it will mail to all those who contacted them for the special event. Jon said it is the station’s goal to contact all 50 states, and they are more than halfway done.

Ham radio is a fun hobby for all, but there is also a connection to aviation. Many pilots are involved with ham radio because they are already familiar with the radios in their airplanes.

Jon said he thinks a large majority of commercial pilots have their license to operate ham radios. When they are on long, overseas flights, they can talk to other hams while on autopilot, he said.

The hope of the KidVenture station and its operators is to teach people about amateur radio so that they will eventually become ham operators themselves.

Abigail Oleniczak, 14, of Wheaton, Illinois, is attending her third AirVenture. She has been a ham radio operator for three years, and her call sign is KD9BLP.

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