Kent Olson, KA0LDG, Appointed Dakota Division Vice Director
In one of her first actions as ARRL President, Kay Craigie, N3KN, has appointed Dakota Division Assistant Director and former North Dakota Section Manager Kent Olson, KA0LDG, as the new Dakota Division Vice Director. The position became vacant when Dakota Division Director Jay Bellows, K0QB, was elected International Affairs Vice President at the 2010 ARRL Board of Directors Annual Meeting and Vice Director Greg Widin, K0GW, moved into the Director position.
A native of North Dakota, Olson -- an ARRL Life Member -- was first licensed in 1981 while in high school; he earned his Amateur Extra license in 1997. Olson served as the North Dakota Section Manager from 2001-2008 where he told the ARRL that he had the opportunity to get to know hams throughout North Dakota.
"I am very excited and honored that ARRL President Kay Craigie chose me to fill the Dakota Division Vice Director position -- this has to be the best thing that has happened to me in ham radio," Olson told the ARRL. "It will be a pleasure to work with Dakota Division Director Greg Widin in representing the Dakota Division. I am fully committed to help in any way I can to promote the League, its policies and Amateur Radio as a whole."
While still in high school, Olson enlisted in the North Dakota Air National Guard (119th Wing) as a Munitions Systems Specialist. After basic training, he worked on guided missiles for the F-4 (Phantom II). After completing his degree at North Dakota State University, he was selected to become a Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) in the F-4 and became a commissioned officer. "I did that for a couple of years until the unit converted to the F-16 (Fighting Falcon). I then was able to go to pilot training and became an F-16 pilot in 1991. I have held a lot of positions in the Wing and am now the Vice Wing Commander with the rank of Colonel." He has more than 3100 hours in the cockpit.
When Olson flew the F-16, he had the unique opportunity to operate HF aeromobile and make quite a few contacts to hams around the world: "Talk about pileups! The F-16s we had were specifically modified with an HF radio, and occasionally I could make contacts while traveling cross country." Now that his unit has switched from the F-16 to the C-21, he said he doesn't get to do as much aeromobile as he would like, since his duties as Vice Wing Commander keep him fairly busy.
As the Dakota Division's ham population concentration is in Minnesota, Director Widin said he knows that members and ham radio events and needs span all three Sections: Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota: "I wanted someone who could help extend the ARRL presence across the Sections. Kent brings experience and an enthusiastic approach to the job. I'm glad we can add him to the Dakota Division team. Hams who know Kent have already been congratulating me on his appointment; Dakota Division members who don't yet know him will soon be congratulating themselves at getting such a competent and dedicated individual for Vice Director."
Olson is the past president of the Red River Radio Amateurs (RRRA), the largest Amateur Radio club in North Dakota. He is an ARRL Volunteer Examiner and an ARRL Certified Instructor. An active participant in SKYWARN, emergency communications and public service events in the area, Olson is a graduate of all three ARRL Emergency Communications courses. He helped craft a Fargo city ordinance that allows hams to erect antenna support structures.
Olson enjoys chasing DX and rag chewing: "I have a modest station and have worked the world with 100 W on either a vertical or dipole." He likes contesting "to give North Dakota out to those who need multipliers (and not really to set any world records)." ARRL Field Day, kit building and Jamboree on the Air round out his radio interests.
Olson has been married to his wife Lisa for 21 years; they have two boys -- Quinn, 13, and Ian, 9. Quinn got his Technician license last year through Boy Scouts and his call is KD0GWA. Olson is active with both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and is also involved with 4H Lego Robotics. The family enjoys everything from building with Legos to bike riding and other outdoor activities.