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An Airman on the Air - A Visit with SP7EWX

Marian, SP7EWX, in his countryside property near a small town Tomaszow Mazowiecki

Marian, SP7EWX, in his countryside property near a small town Tomaszow Mazowiecki in central Poland. A rotary directional array for 10-7-3.5 MHz is mounted on a crank-up tower.


This is not a Hollywood movie screenplay, not another American dream story. It is a short, but true account of one person's ambitious pursuit of goals in life, with Amateur Radio as aid and help to make progress and broaden the horizons. Marian, SP5EWX, is an exemplification of hard work and enthusiasm.
He was born in 1953 which makes him to be today at the legal retirement age of 65. I don't think he will retire now, as he still very active and nimble. His birthplace is a small village in south-eastern Poland, a rural and rather poor district near the border with Ukraine. The soil is fertile, but there were no minerals, no industry and the nearest town was 20 km away. Wintertime, when the snowfall was copious, this place was cut off for days or weeks.

The low-flying medical transportation propeller aircraft stirred his interest before he went to school. He waved to these flying machines and probably dreamed about them at nights. There was no radio at home at that time, only a landline-connected loudspeaker for village announcements and muzak. At the age of 12, Marian's nosiness pushed him to investigate the loudspeaker. Curiosity killed the loudspeaker and the family decided to buy a valve radio with shortwave coverage. An elder cousin explained to teen Marian the basic facts about radio waves and reception. The radio phenomenon was so exciting that he read all he could find on this subject. At 14, without hesitation he chose a high school with technical profile. The school was 70 km away so he had to relocate there. At the dormitory, he got to know an older student who was already an experienced radio amateur. Marian found an active radio club in Lublin (SP8KAF) and before turning 18, he passed the licence test and got the call sign SP8EWX. With a little help from older fellows, in 1972 he built his first 20W transmitter and the first QSO was with SP5GIQ, now SN7Q - the well-known contester. The next home brew project was a power amplifier, which actually resulted in his licence being temporarily revoked. On the other hand, considering his ability to construct and handle such equipment, the permit was restored and with a higher power limit. A period of intensive DX-ing ensued, but after high school he decided to become an airman. Amateur Radio was put aside, but the experience in electronics and radio communication gained from this hobby was very useful during his military training. In 1978 he graduated from the Flight Academy and become a jet fighter pilot. Relocation was necessary and there was no time and no means to conduct any hobby activity. A few years later, at the end of 1981 all Amateur Radio was banned in Poland. In 1985 Marian spotted an antenna in the residential part of the town near his airbase. In due course he renewed his licence, this time with the call sign SP7EWX. He was a regular guest on 14 MHz and started learning English, testing the linguistic progress on the air. It was not openly forbidden to learn English for the military personnel behind the Iron Curtain, but it wasn't popular. Soon, Marian quit his jet fighter stint and moved to the national airline. After the change in politics and economy in Eastern Europe in 1989, this air carrier began acquiring Boeing and Airbus aircraft. Marian shifted to Boeing 767 airliner in 1993. Later he worked for Singapore Airlines, Asiana Airlines in Korea and presently he is flying the longest passenger aircraft in the world, Boeing 747-8 for Silk Way West Airlines in Azerbaijan. His story reminds me of the fairy tale titled The Ugly Duckling by H.C. Andersen. A childhood filled with hardship and obstacles, growing to be a large-winged winning swan.

I visited Marian's summer QTH in the middle of Poland, a stone's throw away from another air base. There, he is using the call sign SP7EWX, while at home, close to the capital city he has another setup and the call sign SP5EWX. You can also catch him on the air while he is airborne, operating Aeronautical Mobile as SP5EWX/AM. The favourite frequency is 14,315 MHz.

SP7EWX. The radio shack at the country cottage is more simple than the regular station at home.

The radio shack at the country cottage is more simple than the regular station at home. After all, the house is used only sporadically as Marian is flying long distance most of the time. He easily speaks Russian and English; this photograph was taken during a long QSO in Russian. This language is very useful for him since he is flying mostly in Asian countries, always close to or over the Russian Federation.


SP7EWX Radio Room Shack

Marian has made many personal friends all over the world in the course of his career as airline captain. He used to visit local clubs and organizations whenever there was an opportunity. While at home, he often invites other Polish radio amateurs for meetings and BBQ. Many foreign hams, visiting Poland, have also been here.


SP7EWX Poland QRV

In 1995 Marian obtained the FCC Amateur Radio licence while visiting Chicago, USA. He later, in 2003, changed the call sign to WH0EWX, since he regularly spent time in Saipan, Mariana Islands. This was during the time he worked for the Korean airline.

SP7EWX 4 element home made Quad antenna

A 4-element home made Quad for HF bands on a free-standing tower at the countryside location. Apologies for the wide-angle lens.

Marian, SP5EWX, has a balanced approach to our hobby. Amateur Radio is only a means to an end, it must serve a purpose. It is good to be enthusiastic about a pastime, but one's family, professional work and the society are more important. Amateur Radio is a fantastic benefit and support. We can learn and practically try out our skills in electronics, radio technology, languages, social co-operation and efficient communication. Let's us not spoil this hobby by improper behaviour on the air, despising people with less experience and knowledge or inferior equipment. Let us communicate better, not just exchange "five-nines". There are many interesting people behind plain call signs.


Henryk Kotowski, SM0JHF
January 2018

Amateur Radio Article SP5EWX An Airman on the Air A visit with SP5EWX

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3 Comments

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Rating: 5 of 5
Karol
  • Callsign: VE7KFM
  • 2018-01-12 06:59:18
Marian: Nice to see pics of you/your antennas/QTHs and read about your exploits.... Others: I had a handful of QSOs with Marian on 20m over the decade+, usually when he was aero-mobile, while flying for various airlines. The most memorable was when I visually confirmed his position, just west of Vancouver Is. where I live, via contrails at ~30K feet, while he was flying from Los Angeles to Anchorage. Henryk: Good/informative/interesting article -- especially considering that it's written in your 3rd language, presumably [he, he, Sverige].... But, because of some bitter personal experiences related to the HAMereekan scene, I have reservations about a phrase you used in the last paragraph: "Let's us [sic] not spoil this hobby by improper behaviour on the air...." While I would of course normally agree, proper behaviour is largely subjective in the West and is particularly highly context-specific. To paraphrase an old à propos Polish saying for illustration: When someone spits in your face, a man does not say that it's raining.... Arguably, the proper behaviour in that context, IMNSHO, is a quick but powerful punch in the nose!
100%
Rating: 5 of 5
Miika Heikinheimo
  • Callsign: OH2BAD
  • 2018-01-07 06:25:17
Nice article again, well written and interesting. HNY 2018 Henryk & all! Miika, OH2BAD
100%
Rating: 5 of 5
Henryk
  • Callsign: SM0JHF
  • 2018-01-03 08:16:34
Formal update: Marian is now using the call sign SP7M from his countryside station. At home, near Warszawa, the call sign SP5EWX is still valid. Frankly, I do not like these short call signs; it takes quite some time before I can learn to quickly associate a new call sign with a name, a face, a person.