It’s hard to get there. There’s a very small airport, and the only other way in by land is a mule trail down sheer sea cliffs. Access to the peninsula, strictly controlled by the Hawaii Department of Health, is possible only via invitation, special arrangement, or by organized tour. It’s also one of the hardest places to reach by radio waves. But five amateur radio operators from Honolulu plan, for a weekend at least, to put Kalawao County on the map.
Kalawao County, Hawaii, home to the former Hansen’s disease settlement on Kalaupapa, is one of the smallest counties in the United States, both by population and by land area – according to the 2010 census, only 90 people live on the 13 square miles on the northern tip of Molokai. There are only eleven patients left in the settlement and about 25 staff members living there as well. The small population also makes the county one of the most sought-after spots in the United States. Until very recently there were no hams in Kalawao County (two new Technicians passed their exam about a month ago), and there have been no hams capable of doing HF (shortwave) communications since the 1960s.
Five amateur radio operators are now in Kalaupapa preparing to work other stations around the United States and abroad as part of the Hawaii QSO Party this weekend. (QSO is amateur radio speak for a two-way radio contact.) These operators are Joe Speroni (AH0A), Jim Yuen (WH6GS), Bev Yuen (AH6NF), Kimo Chun (KH7U), and Ron Hashiro (AH6RH).
For more information on the Kalawao County DX-pedition, visit Ron Hashiro’s page.