REPORT 2016-8-14

Keith Lowes ZS5WFD did in fact send us a report of last Sunday’s Kloof Conservancy Three Falls Trail Run. 303 entrants ran the full race, and another 76 did the fun walk. The weather was good for the race, and all went well, apart from a female runner who broke her ankle in the splash at the river crossing. Brad ZS5Z assessed the situation, notified the JOC, who then mobilised Rescuetech and ER24 to extract the runner, stabilise her injury and convey her to hospital. Another call for a runner possibly in difficulty was cancelled after her husband came to her rescue. The Joint Operations centre was stood down at 12h15, and Keith expresses his thanks to all from HAMNET KZN for their help.

If you thought HAMNET’s influence extended only as far as South Africa’s borders, think again. Grant Southey ZS1GS, HAMNET WC Regional Director is on holiday in England, and was sitting in a park enjoying a cup of coffee with his wife Elizabeth ZS1XS, when a child at a nearby table started choking on a sweet. As the little girl starting going blue, her mother tried to dislodge the sweet unsuccessfully. Grant quickly sized up the situation, went across to their table, and, after two attempts at the Heimlich Manoeuvre, succeeded in dislodging the sweet from her throat. Daughter and Mother quickly recovered their composure, and soon left the park.

In typical philosophical manner, Grant pondered on the fact that first aid takes no holidays, and that we all ought to be competent to give basic help if needed. The Heimlich Manoeuvre is a simple life-saving procedure, and it behoves us all to understand how to do it, because a life is so easily lost, and so easily saved if this technique is adequately employed. Well done, Grant, and somewhere, there will be a mother who will one day tell the story of an unknown South African who saved her daughter’s life!

South Africa has at least three Ionosondes, vertically directed transmitters and receivers for assessing the ionosphere, and predicting propagation patterns for the benefit of all agencies transmitting radio signals, including radio amateurs. The biggest Ionosonde in the world has recently been recommissioned in Alaska, at its High Altitude Auroral Research Programme, or HAARP, facility. Originally managed by the US Air Force, it has now been acquired by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and its Geophysical Institute is preparing it for a new sponsored research campaign to begin next year.

Some instruments at the site will need repairing or replacement, the optical instruments will be returned to the site, and exotic equipment such as riometers, a UHF radar, and a flux-gate magnetometer will be brought up to speed again. An increase in amateur radio’s involvement is also planned, and other science instruments are on the drawing board for the future. One or more ham stations may be installed at the site.

The University describes HAARP as “the world’s most capable high-power, high-frequency transmitter for study of the ionosphere.” Built in three phases, starting in the early 1990’s and continuing until 2007, at a cost of some $300 million, HAARP over the years has inspired a wide range of conspiracy theories that became grist for late-night radio talk shows. Some have claimed that HAARP’s transmitters and 30-acre antenna farm — capable of generating up to 5 GW Effective Radiated Power — have been used to control the weather, while others have argued that HAARP has caused earthquakes!

Ignoring these idiocies, HAARP is aimed at studying the properties and behaviour of the ionosphere. Operation of the research facility was transferred from the US Air Force to the University of Alaska Fairbanks last August, allowing HAARP to continue exploring ionospheric phenomena via a land-use cooperative research and development agreement. — Thanks to the ARRL Letter, Chris Fallen, KL3WX, Steve Floyd, W4YHD, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks for these notes.

Francois Botha, ZS6BUU, has posted a reflection on our Facebook page this week, that Winter will soon be over, and that berg winds in the Eastern half of the country will bring the risks of veld fires to those areas. He pleads with us all not inconsiderately to flick those cigarette butts out of the car window, because of the potential danger to the country-side. We all join him in hoping that early Spring rains will bring relief to the many drought-stricken and devastated areas of our country.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.