Melvin S. Wilson
The world above 50 MHz lost one of its truly great inhabitants with the passing,
on February 3, of Mel Wilson, W2BOC. For over 40 years, Mel devoted a
substantial portion of his time to the study of sporadic E and auroral
propagation, and significantly added to mankind's knowledge of these two modes
so important to our exploitation of the vhf bands. In quest of proof of his
belief that some types of sporadic E are triggered by violent atmospheric storm
systems, he systematically pored over stacks of weather maps, correlating
their information with mountains of reports submitted by hundreds of amateurs.
From this mass of data, Mel was able to trace the "birthplaces" and subsequent
migration of literally thousands of sporadic E clouds responsible for hundreds
of openings occurring over several decades. His findings were documented in
a number of articles, including a major two-part work that appeared in QST
for December 1970 and March 1971.
Received the first John Chambers Award of the Central States VHF Society at
the Conference in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in August of 1971.
In 1982 the Central States VHF Society created the Wilson Award in his honor.
World Above 50 MHz
April 1982 QST
A particularly outstanding example of his painstaking use of
amateur-supplied data was presented in conjunction with a talk he gave at the
1973 Central States VHF Conference. It consisted of a film produced with
WA5HNK. To create the film, they pieced together hundreds of still photos
of maps, each showing plots of Es paths existing at a specific time. The
result graphically displayed the life history of a typical opening. This
was only one of many talks W2BOC presented at Central States Conferences.
He was a regular attendee of these annual meetings of vhf-minded hams
since they began in 1967. In addition to formal talks given at these and
other amateur gatherings, he spent many hours in individual discussions with
fellow hams sharing his interest in sporadic E and related subjects. As
well as being very patient in explaining the intricacies of the subject, he was
always eager to hear the observations, thoughts and ideas of others.
Mel Wilson was one of those for whom it can truly be said that the
world is better informed because of his diligent pursuit of a keenly held interest
and the insight that he brought to bear in unraveling some of its mysteries.
Of course, this is especially so for our particular niche in the hobby of
Amateur Radio. But that's only part of the work of this man. In
addition to his outstanding contribution to the physical science of radio
propagation in connection with his hobby of Amateur Radio, he was, in his
professional career, a noted expert on the subject of underwater sound
propagation. As such, he materially aided the defense of his country
during the Second World War and for years thereafter in the vital field of
As with all of his friends, I will miss Mel's absence from Central
States Conferences and other amateur meetings but I, for one, will be content in the
in the knowledge that his contributions will serve as a foundation and guide
for others also gifted with his brand of curiosity, insight and determination
to learn how our signals get from one place to another. Their own
accomplishments and discoveries will be the best monument to him and his work
that I can imagine. I am certain that Mel would echo this feeling.
1979 Central States VHF Society Conference - Irving, TX
W6XJ - standing left
W2BOC - seated left
W6ABN - seated right
W2AXU - 2nd from left
W2HD - next
W2BOC - right
Page last updated: August 26, 2000