In Memory of John H. Thompson, W1BIH / PJ9JT
March, 1915 – March 9, 2012

 

W1BIH/PJ2 1981 Curacao, Netherlands Antilles

 

W1BIH 1948 Torrington, CT

 

W1BIH 1955 Torrington, CT

 

W1BIH 1968 Torrington, CT

 

John Thompson, W1BIH/PJ9JT was an avid contester and DXer. Over the past 70 plus years, he rarely missed a major contest, operating from his home station, W1BIH, the Connecticut Wireless Association during Field Day, or from one of the PJ islands. He even managed to get on in the VK/ZL contest one year when visiting the gang down under. John’s enthusiasm and dedication to the sport of contesting was strong. His first love was CW, but he was no stranger to SSB contesting and was been quite active in the RTTY contests as well!

John was licensed in 1931. Starting in 1933 he was an operator at W1YK, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he served as club president among other offices held. After moving into his new home in Torrington, CT in August, 1940, John’s contesting activities really blossomed. He was a regular and ardent participant in all the major HF contests, both domestic and DX. John was an early member of the Connecticut Wireless Association, a small band of ardent operators in Central Connecticut who made Field Day their own with a long string of first and second place finishes in the 1, 2 and 3 transmitter-class. In 1963 and again in 1965, John was a member of the DXpeditions to Sint Maarten (PJ5ME) sponsored by the CWA. Operating during the ARRL CW DX Contest, this group placed first in the world in 1966 in the multi- multi-category.

From 1971 to 2000, John operated from his home in Curacao where he regularly participated in the CQ WW 160 meter contests, ARRL 160, ARRL DX and CQ WPX contests. For 6 years before that, John had operated from Curacao from the Coral Cliff hotel, owned and operated by Chet, PJ9EE. John was instrumental in the many PJ DXpeditions during CQWW Phone and CW contests, either as an operator, organizer or as a source of a location from which others have operated.

When John wasn’t contesting, he spent time giving novices a crack at the PJ9 prefix, spending at least one hour per day operating the novice bands (Bernie, W3UR commented that as a novice he had worked John on 15 meters). RTTY and satellite operating were also a part of John’s activities from PJ9JT. When the solar flux was higher, John would attempt QSOs during the VHF contests as well. As a long-time member of the First-Class CW Operator’s Club (FOC) you would find John an active member on the bands. During the first weekend of February, he joined in the fray during the annual Marathon, which he’s won for South America for 20 years or more.

When he wasn’t contesting, John is “Elmering” his grandson, Alan who, in 1994, was already sending and receiving at 5 wpm. Today Alan is N1TKZ.

John was a superior DXer, with a total of 390 confirmed (367 on phone). In 2006 at the age of 90, he worked his last country, 3Y0X on Peter 1 Island. The event was video-taped and is available at:
http://69.89.25.185/~trexsoft/t-rexsoftware.com/peterone/videos/w1bih.htm

At DX dinners where the custom is to have a countdown where everyone with 300 confirmed would stand up. As the number went up (310, 320, etc.) you sat down when the number was higher than your total. John was usually the last one standing.

In 1994, John’s achievements were recognized when he was inducted into the CQ Magazine Contest Hall of Fame as the 14th member where he joined a very elite group of accomplished contesters.

Here is a partial list of the many victories that John has to his credit:

Year Call Event Results
1959 W1BIH CQ WW CW #1 world M/S with W1AX
1962 W1BIH CQ WW CW #1 USA M/S
1966 PJ5ME ARRL DX CW #1 world M/M
1967 W1BIH/PJ2 CQ WW CW #1 world M/M
1968 PJ0CC CQ WW CW #1 World M/M new record
1969 PJ0CW CQ WW CW #1 World M/M
1970 PJ0FC CQ WW CW #1 World M/M new record
1971 PJ9JT CQ WW CW #1 World M/M
1974 PJ9JT CQ WW CW #1 World
1984 P42J ARRL DX #1 South America SSB and CW
1985 W1BIH/PJ2 ARRL DX #1 South America CW
1986 PJ9J ARRL DX #2 World CW
1987 PJ9J ARRL DX #1 South America SSB
1988 PJ9J ARRL DX #1 South America CW M/S with W1RM

SSB M/S with W1WEF

1989 PJ2J ARRL DX #1 South America CW with W1WEF
1990 PJ2J ARRL DX #1 South America CW with W1WEF and K1RM
1991 PJ2J ARRL DX #1 South America CW W1WEF op
1992 PJ2J ARRL DX #1 South America CW W1WEF op
1996 PJ9C ARRL DX CW #1 World M/S with W1WEF
1997 PJ9C ARRL DX CW #1 World M/S with W1WEF
1998 PJ9C ARRL DX CW #1 World M/S with W1WEF

From the Caribbean Contesting Consortium (PJ2T) web page:

From 1971 until 2000, John Thompson, W1BIH, owned his QTH at Coral Cliffs on the island of Curacao. The home became known arguably as one of the most famous contesting and DX locations in the world. The operator list during those decades was a "Who's Who" of contesting. Even Vic Clark, W4KFC, has operated from this location. In 1989, RadioTeam Finland operated PJ9W to an all-time record in the CQWW SSB contest from a field immediately adjacent to this house.

John's place, which came to be known as PJ9JT, has been the site of many world-high titles. In 1970, PJ0FC operated in CQWW CW, with the call licensed to Vic Clark, W4KFC. That team included W2TA, K4BAI, W4BRB (W4OO), K4BVD/6 (W6OAT), PA0VDV (PJ2VD), W4DQS (W4QM), W4GF, W4KFC, and K4SHB (N4TO). In 1996, 1997 and 1998 the station won the Multi/Single category of the ARRL CW DX contest, with W1BIH and W1WEF at the helm.

Incredibly, all of this was accomplished with a tribander and wires, attesting to the magic of the location.

John was a hero to many. An example of what a great ham should be. He was always humble and never really spoke of his accomplishments unless pressed, but he always delighted in telling great stories of the various adventures. He will be greatly missed by his many friends.

 

Tribute and photo courtesy of Peter Chamalian W1RM
QSL Cards from W8JYZ Collection

 


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