[CQ-Contest] Airport security and ham gear

K3FT k3ft at starpower.net
Mon Feb 2 07:19:48 EST 2004

Even pre-September 11 there have been 'those moments'. (funny NOW.. not
then! :-)

Just over 20 years ago I took a trip where I took an HF rig along. Security
wasn't ANYWHERE as tight as it now, obviously, but they were STILL taking it
seriously back then.  I packed my HF transceiver in a box and shipped it.
But I didn't want to pack my favorite Vibroplex bug or my EV base mic in the
box. It was my 'work bug' as I was a commercial marine CW op and a 'bug' is
de rigeur for marine ops! HI. Plus I didn't want them to get damaged. You
know how it is with hams and their 'bugs' and paddles. We DO develop an
attachment to them - especially if you use it for work! HI.

So I put 'em in cardboard boxes all snug with foam and wrote on the box
placed 'em in a carry-on nylon bag.  Had my ticket with me in case they
asked.  Went through security. I watched the bag come through and saw the
display on the screen.

Naturally, they saw this rectangular object (the 'bug') with protruding dark
pieces plus the wire with the plug on it coiled up AND the tubular mic wit
the angled head and the cable.  NATURALLY.. this stopped them and they put
the bag off to the side and called a supervisor over.  He took one look at
the frozen image and began to act 'just a bit agitated'.  I quickly went
over, pulled out my ham ticket and my ID, showed them to him,  and told him
what was in the bag and explained it.

He STILL didn't believe me and was I thought he going to pull me and the bag
off to 'the secret room' for a good looksee. (That was fine. I expected
that).  A Md. Transportation Admin cop came over to see what the problem
was. He looked at the image, talked to the supervisor, looked at my ticket
and ID and then he took the supervisor aside and they chatted. The
supervisor's facial expression changed and he just smiled and shook his head
up and down in an affirmative action.  He came back, told me he was sorry
for the interruption, he understood, and let me and my bag go on our way.

The cop came over and introduced himself. Turns out he is a ham.. Also
turned out (small world) that he and I had QSO'd on local 2M machine several
times so we knew each other.  He walked down with me to the waiting area and
we had a nice ragchew/eyeball before my boarding call came.  He mentioned
that I should have packed the bug and mic in the rig box but he also
understood how I didn't want to get them damaged by the gorillas in the
baggage handling area.

Now, today, I'd probably super-pack them and pack them in the rig box for
shipment = well, the mic I would.. the bug and paddles would go in my carry
on luggage.  A ham gets attached to his bug and paddles.


Chuck K3FT

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