[amsat-bb] Project OSCAR Pioneer Richard "Dick" Esneault, W4IJC -- SK

Tim Cunningham tim_cunningham at mindspring.com
Thu Mar 15 10:05:14 PST 2007


Project OSCAR member Richard "Dick" Esneault, W4IJC -- SK

I recently learned that Richard "Dick" Esneault, W4IJC, passed away.

My first encounter with Dick was many years ago when Gene Marcus, W3PM, 
mentioned that Mr. Esneault was involved with Project OSCAR and he was going 
to be part of the AMSAT Forum with me at the Huntsville Hamfest. The Forum 
was a big hit as Dick displayed articles on hardboard for display and the 
most spectacular item was the OSCAR-1 model that you could pick up and hold 
in your hands. Not just a model, but very much the same as the real model 
that went into space. The only other known model is in the Smithsonian 
Institution and here is this guy in Huntsville, Alabama carrying an OSCAR-1 
prototype model in the trunk of his car to hamfests, field day sites, and 
local club meetings.

Mr. Esneault was never short on words. He could talk about the history of 
Project OSCAR and capture your attention. It was not until recent years that 
we thought we should really capture some of his conversation on videotape. 
So, we had him visit the Huntsville Amateur Radio Club a few years ago to 
share his memories.

Mr. Esneault always had an impressive display when he set-up to talk about 
Project OSCAR

His wife told him to tell us how they got the parts for OSCAR-1 and Dick 
with a big grin responded, "Well, well, they were acquired". He always said 
that Jack Kennedy hit a home run with Project OSCAR as a peaceful use of 
space. When asked what kind of battery was used on OSCAR-1 he responded, "It 
was a fancy battery, it wasn't cheap". Later discussion would reveal that 
perhaps it was one of those acquired items. Things that just appeared. When 
asked about the callsign used (HI) on OSCAR-1 he responded, "Hey, after 
Kennedy kicked the front door of his office wanting to get it up.. that made 
no difference.. we could have got up there and did anything, because he 
wanted it done.. it was sort of a blessing he got in on it.". When asked if 
there was any budget for OSCAR-1 or was it just all acquired Dick responded, 
"Budget to covert the cost of OSCAR?  (pause) No, nobody would ever admit 
it, it just happened."

When asked how President Kennedy received project OSCAR, Dick responded, 
"Everret R Morrow (not sure if this name is spelled correctly), who Kennedy 
knew, heard about it in Washington and said let me talk to Jack about that. 
(pause) there was a big scream behind the closed door's. why isn't that 
blank, blank, blank thing up in the air now. and that is how Project OSCAR 
was received by the President."

Last year, I ran into Dick at the 2006 Huntsville Hamfest and he was looking 
in good health, but it was apparent his memory was slipping away. I could 
tell by the look his wife's eyes that he was not himself, so I played along 
with his conversation. The next day I called his son and he confirmed that 
his father was having some memory issues as I had detected.

Mr. Esneault was a pioneer (at the right place at the right time) in the 
satellite community as one of those enabler's to pave the way where we are 
today. We will certainly miss his stories as he had so many.

His picture can still be found in the Satellite Experimenters handbook 
(Directors of the Project OSCAR Association) the last time I checked.


Tim - N8DEU

Huntsville, Alabama

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