DX Stories by Paul M. Dunphy, VE1DX

(Originally Published in Chod Harris' The DX Magazine)


By Hugh Cassidy, WA6AUD

DXers are believers. They have to be and the stronger their beliefs are, the better DXer they will be. True blue DXers always have the faith, they have seen the light.

But once in awhile a trusting DXer will encounter something that will shake his faith, slightly, in the brotherhood of man and the nobleness of DXers. It hurts, and though the hurt does not last long the ache of the wounded ego is generally long remembered.

Some eighteen years back someone up in the northwest quadrant was having a jolly time shaking the faith of DXers. He was on the air signing KL8AA, saying that he was on the Pribilof Islands and that the islands would be accepted by the ARRL as a new country. Many lined up to work the "new" country, many were joyous at their good fortune. The only problem was that the designated QSL manager said that he knew nothing of the operation. Nothing about KL8AA nor anything about he being the designated QSL manager. In fact, he got quite huffy over the matter when queried.

So the matter went into limbo with most DXers figuring that they had been cruelly toyed with. Some but not all. There were those who were sure that some bright day the mailman would deliver their KL8AA QSL card. You could recognize these by their eternal singing of their hymn of hope: "Some Fine Day MY QSL Will Come". It was a long wait.

But the stirring saga was not over.

In April 1978 the good word finally came. A letter was mailed to all the then existing DX bulletins, and a few more good possibilities, telling of the end of the KL8AA operation, some of the problems that had been encountered during the Arctic Propagation Test and, again, designating W7VY as the guaranteed QSL route.

There was but one fly in the DX soup. The return address on the letter. It read:

FPO Seattle
Wash 98407

Having been cautioned, most of you will instantly recognize the flaw in the address.

You don't? The FPO number is incorrect. Seattle FPOs all had the 987 ZIP Code prefix. In fact, all the military post offices served by Seattle all had 987 prefixes. Zip prefix 984 belongs to Tacoma. Zip Code Number 98707 was assigned to the box section in the Proctor Station in the Tacoma Post Office.

The fatal flaw in the grand plan was that there then was a DX bulletin whose editor caught the discrepancy in the ZIP Code prefix. As soon as he saw the address, the flag was run up for a full red alert.

The first thing done was to phone the designated QSL manager, W7VY, up in Montana. He came with a hair trigger and a short temper. Just a word of inquiry about KL8AA and W7VY was flaming. When it was possible to quiet him down and advise about the letter that had been sent and that he perhaps was getting the opportunity to head a lot of grief off, he settled down and flatly stated that he was neither the QSL Manager nor did he know anything about KL8AA. Furthermore, if he ever caught up with the perpetrator spreading the false information, the culprit would be macerated.

That closed the circle. The DX bulletin immediately published the early warning about this operation of Pribilof Slim and explained in full why the thing was fictitious. KL8AA and the classified military operation ARMPT immediately became a memory of the past and hope for the new country QSL faded.

That's the story, the accompanying photos will show the letter and the signature by LCDR Geo. B. Schebershmeir. It was a well planned hoax that had all the earmarks of the true blue DXCC counter. It did not work. Some of the joy must have been lost when the creator learned his big plan had landed with a thud.

Possibly such incidents of DX hilarity and joy will always be with us. As had been said: "Don't ask too many questions. Work`em now, worry later". Perhaps some of the joy in the KL8AA caper came from nailing the matter when it was hardly out of the can.

The suspicion long lingered that the operator of KL8AA lived in Tacoma or nearby and had a box at the Proctor Station of the Tacoma Post Office. He possibly used a ZIP Code that he was familiar with. It was not the best choice.

Long ago some DXers learned that the first thing to check when a strange call or prefix was heard was the ITU prefix allocations. It is helpful to determine if the allocation fits the locale. Sometimes it does not. That should give a quick clue.

We had one locally determined DXer who needed Franz Josef when that one was extremely rare and UR2AR had not yet made it plentiful. This local DXer worked a station signing YOU EFF ZERO OH EL and who said that he was operating from the Franz Josef group. It was guaranteed that it would count in spite of the prefix, the operator insisting that the call was the one that had been issued to him.

The big gun disregarded the prefix to stoutly defend the legitimacy of the call of the new one he had just worked and whose availability he was immediately spreading by telephone. Finally, another local, a killjoy for sure, asked the Big Gunner to write the call out in block letters. He did....and got the message. It was not Franz Josef.

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