I have been licensed since 1990. My ham activity began on the Novice bands like everyone in those days, CW only with a Nye straight key counting dits, and a Yaesu FT980 to a fan dipole. I had my first QSO ten minutes after my ticket (KC4TFC) arrived in the mail. I worked Mike KA2PQY in NJ all the way from Georgia. It looks like he has moved now. Thanks Mike.
I became interested in DX work and applied myself to that for several years. That and some limited contesting consumed most of my time in the hobby. I think it also slowed any CW progress, and made me realize I wanted to be better. After 20 years of raising a family and growing a business, I retired in 2016 and got back into ham radio. This time, I was more interested in day to day radio work of all kinds, but particularly wanted to improve my CW ability. And I wanted to ragchew. Working at it helped, but progress was not fast.
At the Shelby, NC hamfest in 2019, I ran into Van N5TOO, who explained CWops to me and encouraged me to try it, so I did. My Level One advisor was another very strong encourager, Jim N4TMM (notice the similarity in these two call signs). Jim moved me to Level Two and into Ed’s N9EP class. Yet another very encouraging influence on me. Lastly, I have just completed Level Three with Ed K6HP. The encouragers just keep coming! Thank you fellows for the nomination and the sponsorships, as I joined the day after my first CWT.
Everyone involved, and the entire program have just had such a positive influence on me. Knowing this is volunteer work in volumes, their generosity with their time is amazing to me. I have stayed in touch with and had on air QSOs with my instructors and hope to make many more friends in CWops on the CW bands.