Once more I found myself in a new VK SOTA association courtesy of work, and so I figured I’d take the opportunity between work finishing, and my flight out, to activate the closest summit to both, Mt Ainslie. I grabbed my 2m HT, a cheapy-Chinese Baofeng that is hardly used, deciding that carting the 857 up to Canberra for a day was abusing both the carry-on luggage limits and my tolerance for what I could carry around with me all day visiting customers. I emailed Andrew VK1NAM and Andrew VK1DA to see if there was a chance to catch up, and that quickly evolved into a VK1 SOTA dinner, with yours truly as some kind of guest of honour.
The day started early, with me catching the second flight to Canberra. The first flight of the morning was delayed due to fog, but the second, mine, took off on time, in the hope it would clear by the time we arrived. We were put into a holding pattern to the south of Canberra, giving me good views over the Snowy Mountains as we went round and around. After an hour or so of holding, the pilots were given permission to fly an approach, but with a diversion back to Melbourne if it wasn’t possible to land. We reached decision height and weren’t even in the fog by that stage (Canberra has a lower quality instrument landing system), so the pilots went missed approach, and we flew off back to Melbourne. As we turned, I had a clear view of Mt Ainslie, out of the fog, a thousand feet or so below me.
On our way back, the pilots told us the fog was forecast to remain for about 2 hours, which was perfect for a flight back to Melbourne, refuelling and a flight back. I got in about 3 and a half hours late, having flown to Canberra twice that day, and having already passed over the activation zone of the mountain I was due to activate!
My meetings were done and dusted and so I got a work colleague to drop me off down Mt Ainslie a bit, and I walked back into the activation zone. I took a few photos just before the sun went down, and helped a group of tourists with their photo, then called CQ on the handheld. I got VK1WJ, Andrew VK1NAM and Matt VK1MA in the log quickly, then called for ages with nothing. It would seem that with the stock antenna, the Baofeng is fairly deaf. With a 2m Slim Jim, I worked Andrew 160km away on Mt Disappointment using the same radio. Apparently people were calling, but I couldn’t hear them, squelch wide open. Andrew was at the base of Mt Ainslie to chase, and came up and lent me his handheld to get the last contact needed to qualify. I also worked summit to summits with Ian VK1DI and Andrew VK1MBE, before the weather became offensive and we adjourned to Olims for dinner.
Dinner was a glorious $12 rump steak, only let down by the lack of a steak knife, and present at the dinner were no less than 5 SOTA Andrews. We had Andrew VK1NAM, Andrew VK1DA, Andrew VK1MBE, Andrew VK2FAJG, and of course myself, Andrew VK3ARR. I don’t know the collective word for a group of SOTA Andrews; an abundance? an activation? an alliteration? In any case, much fun was had and good hospitality shared, so thanks to the VK1 SOTA crowd for welcoming a visitor warmly and for ferrying me around from summit to dinner to the airport.