I took my Extra exam on Guam in 1963. The nearest FCC office was at
Honolulu and there was no way you could "walk through the snow drifts up
hill both ways" to take an FCC test, so the FCC "contracted" the testing
out to the Naval Area Commander on Nimitz Hill.
The examiner was a Navy Chief Radioman who was a friend of mine, Gary
Dial (now SK). He called me the evening before the scheduled exam and said
I could bring my own key if I wanted, but he'd have one wired up already.
Next morning, just as an afterthought, I put my Vibroplex in the car "just
When I walked in for the test he had a hand key and a Vibroplex both
wired up for the sending test --- said I could use either one. Well, my
hand key skills topped out around 20WPM, so I opted for the speed key.
But for the life of me I couldn't send decent code on Gary's key. No
matter how I adjusted it the code was choppy and poorly formed. Thinking
I'd do better on my own familiar key, Gary let me go out to the car and get
As soon as I set it on the desk, I saw the problem. Gary had reversed
the thumb and finger plastics on the exam key, and in my nervousness over
the exam I hadn't even noticed. We had a good laugh, and I went on to pass
73, de Hans, K0HB