Mike Davis, 13, Is One Ham Who Knows How to Act—his Quick Thinking Saved Three Lives
Davis had his parents' permission to get up at 1 a.m. that night last month to try to tune in a rarely heard station in the South Pacific's Caroline Islands. "I was listening around," he recounts, "and I heard this New Zealand station talking to a station in distress. But they weren't copying." Quickly, Mike took over. "Everybody clam up unless you have something to do with the emergency!" he barked—then he coolly commanded the frequency for 45 minutes, relaying longitude and latitude to the Coast Guard. The Florida base in turn airlifted a pump, life raft and marine radio to Miss Carmen. After the crippled boat limped into Montego Bay under Coast Guard escort, a grateful relative of one of the fishermen proclaimed Mike "the most wonderful person that ever happened."
The ham radio bug runs in the Davis family. Mike's parents met, years before it was chic, by CB radio. His father, an electronics engineer at Hughes Aircraft, and his 15-year-old brother are both fully licensed hams, and his 11-year-old sister is in training. Mike, an eighth grader enrolled in high school classes for gifted students, also builds rockets, which he takes out to the desert and launches to heights of up to 10,000 feet. His summer job this year is building miniature engines for a manufacturer of model rockets.
Mike's rescue of the three fishermen may also have saved the three antennas which loom over the Davis household at the base of the Palos Verdes foothills. Hillside residents had threatened a lawsuit, complaining that the antennas (ranging up to 55 feet) obstructed their view. But the dramatic rescue at sea made Mike (call sign WD6FFV) an overnight hero, featured in all the area papers and TV programs. Says his mother, Diane, happily: "We haven't heard from the neighbors since."