A VRC Ham Name in Air Museum

By Mike WA7QPC

After a day spent at the Mike and Key swap meet at Puyallup, I headed for Seattle and a first time visit to the Museum of Flight, located next to Boeing Field.

As closing time approached, I was in the Great Hall, examining an exhibit of early aircraft communications equipment. They have an old Teletype machine, the kind that printed on a strip of gummed tape, an old transmitter and a microphone used in aircraft service. Next to that were a couple of lights used at airports. What caught my eye was what appeared to be grafitti on one of the the fixtures. (See the picture at ……) Look closely at that signature….”Bob Shelby, Airport Manager”. That’s none other than W7FPY, who’s retired from the Eugene Airport.

I was curious how the name of a Valley Radio Club member wound up prominently displayed in a major museum. Bob was surprised to learn it was on public display but filled me in on the story:

 “Yup, I remember it exactly…..just don’t know where it’s located these days. Here’s the story: The main runway at Eugene’s airport had been upgraded but funds were never quite available to do the crosswind runway, 3 – 21. Consequently, it had an antiquated lighting system, including non-standard threshold lights……which got me written up at every FAA inspection. June and I would see the FAA’s Region Director, Chris Walk, at various social events (and of course I already knew him well from my apprenticeship days in Eastern Washington) where he would always inquire, “…..WHEN  was I going to rid the airport of those abominable threshold lights?….” I’d give him some evasive answer and once he said to June, “…….I never laid a glove on him….” But eventually we did indeed upgrade 3 – 21 including the lighting systems so I saved one of those “offensive” lights for Chris. Planned to take it up Seattle way and present it to him when he ups and retires. We had a BIG shindig at Boeing’s Museum in his honor and it kinda brought down the house when I gave this to him.”

And then Bob added “And that’s quite an honor to be in the Museum…..wow!”