Airway Pioneer Member
George L. Hunsaker

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I was raised in Ada, Oklahoma. Harral Allen (W5GZK) taught Physics and Chemistry in high school and he would come to school a half hour early to teach me code so I could get a "Ham ticket". I took the exam in December '40 and received W5JOV in February '41. That license and 20 w.p.m. was the door into the CAA/FAA right out of high school in 1942 while I was 17 years of age. My first station was at Engle, New Mexico where I turned 18 and registered for the draft. The CAA procured a deferment for me and while at Engle one of the Regional Office Inspectors came to the station to see if our code Speed was up to par. Melvin "Pancho" Baird was the Chief (I think he was 23) and we had a contest to try and impress the Inspector. Both of us did over 30 w.p.m. Shortly thereafter I was transferred to Texarkana, Ark.

The fact that I could handle 30 w.p.m. resulted in a message asking if I would go to Hawaii. I was sent to Hilo, (KMZA) where most of the work was CW. In short order I was sent to Honolulu (KVM) where we were more of a military communications facility. Sometimes we were assigned to a position to guard a frequency and wait for someone to call us and we would take their traffic. I never got so tired of five letter code groups in my life! At other times we knew who we were working. At the end of the year when my deferment ended, I requested transfer back to the Mainland so I could get in the Army. They wouldn't do it because they said that they had no relief for me. They wanted me to sign up for another year and get another deferment. I refused and I was drafted in 1944. After basic, I got in the 78th AAF Base Unit Army Airways Communication System. This outfit was a Continuation Training and Overseas Replacement Depot. (Try writing all of that on the return address of our "free" mail.) Promotions sometimes came before I could get the stripes sewn on. I was discharged in 1946 as the NCO in Charge. I was again sent to Engle, New Mexico. After a few months, and no transfer, I bid on Panama. I was there at WHZ for a year with CW and RTTY.

The next station was Clarendon, Texas where I married Alma Murphy 52 years ago. Next, was Amarillo, Texas where I changed to the Tower option. I was sent to Oklahoma City and on a reduction in force at the end of 1951 I was sent to Albuquerque, NM as an Assistant Controller. When I first went to the tower, I though I had died and gone to the "bad place". There was so much traffic that we used all of the runways and had them missing at the intersections. Besides civilians and Air Carriers, we had aircraft from the Air Force and Navy Special Weapons there. About the middle 50's New Mexico was made a part of the 6th Region. When a representative of Los Angeles came to Albuquerque and saw what we were doing he made a decision that we couldn't do that anymore. We had to use one runway. At that time the Commanding Officer (Kirtland AFB) was the Airport Manager. He called the Chief when departures lined up for about half a mile. The C.O. then called either Los Angeles or Washington which resulted in going back to full runway operation.

Later New Mexico went back into the 4th Region. I received promotions within the tower until 1960 when I was selected for Facility Chief. In 1967 there was a big turmoil within the Region and all of the tower chiefs were transferred. I went to Little Rock, Ark. I later was retired because of a medical problem. The FAA wasn't particularly interested in someone who lost his vision periodically. We moved back to Albuquerque in 1975 after 33 years of service. We have three children: Lucy is a Senior Bio-Chemical Research Technologist at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Joe is an ordained minister and has a Masters Degree in Counseling. Julie is a National Board Certified Nuclear Pharmacist. Now my time is spent with the Shriners. This is my sixth year as Chaplain. (I know that will shock those who knew me

George Hunsaker

6908 Isleta Blvd. SW

Albuquerque, NM 87105-7047

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