HAMNET Report 3rd January 2021

Greg Mossop, G0DUB, emergency comms coordinator for IARU Region 1 says in his New Year Message that 2020 has not been the year anyone had expected, or wanted.

“Despite the challenge of COVID-19 as a medical emergency rather than a communications one, groups around the region have provided assistance whenever they have been asked. We have also looked after our own members by getting on the air, and adapting to the restrictions by holding meetings virtually rather than face to face. Some countries have taken the time to develop new systems or try new things but worldwide we have always been ready to respond and this has continued right through the year from bush fires in Australia, typhoons in the Philippines and ending with the earthquake this week in Croatia. Disasters did not take time off for COVID.

“Thanks to you, your families, and the many thousands of volunteers across the region for your support of Emergency Communications this year. Your patience as we found new ways of working was appreciated!

“I hope you all have a happy and healthy 2021.”

Thank you Greg, and the same to you, from all the HAMNET members in South Africa.

On Monday the 28th December, the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) started reporting an orange alert for Tropical Cyclone CHALANE-20, active in the Mozambique Channel, with wind-speeds up to 120 km/h and threatening half a million people in Mozambique, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Botswana, if it veered inland due west, as expected.

It was expected to cross the coast of Mozambique at midday on Wednesday, reach Zimbabwe by nightfall, and potentially enter Botswana by Thursday morning. Of course, as it crossed land, its strength waned, and it was downgraded to a tropical depression in Zimbabwe, where it nevertheless brought rains and thunderstorms to central Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday, at 14h19 our time, central Croatia was struck by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake, exposing 122000 people to threat. The epicenter was 10km under the earth’s surface and within a few kilometres of the town of Petrinja, about 50km from the capital Zagreb. A total of 2.8 million people live within 100km of the epicenter. A 12 year old girl was reported to have been killed instantly, and people were still unaccounted for. The weather at the time was very bad, with strong winds, rain and snow.

Surrounding countries felt the shock, or experienced their own earthquakes, of lesser intensity, and at slightly differing times. I haven’t heard of major loss of life in surrounding areas.

Zeljko Herman 9A5EX of RMZO in Croatia reported that radio amateurs had created an organized network and were not engaged in the field. On the ground, state forces with their own communication systems were fulfilling their roles. There was therefore no need for additional radio communications, and RMZO stood by in reserve. Civil protection, firefighters, and the police were engaged.

Medical care and the search of the ruins by the USAR teams and the care of the homeless population were priorities.

HF frequencies were not being used, or reserved for EmComms.

Southgate Amateur Radio News says that Hideo JH3XCU/1 has reported the latest total for the number of radio amateurs in Japan.

On December 26, 2020, Japan (population 126m) had 389,343 licensed amateur radio stations, a fall of 12,837 during the year. On December 28, 2019, there had been 402,180 amateur stations which in turn had been a fall of some 15,000 from a year earlier.

Over 90% of all Japanese amateurs have the popular Class 4 operator license. Introduced in the 1950’s it was the world’s first HF license that didn’t require a Morse code test.

A Class 4 licence permits the following:
• 1 watt EIRP on 135 and 472 kHz
• 10 watts output on 1.9, 3.5, 7, 21, 24, 28 MHz bands
• 20 watts output on 50, 144 and 430 MHz bands
• Varying power levels between 10 watts and 0.1 watts on ALL amateur bands between 1,240 GHz and 250 GHz.

It seems to me their class 4 licence is similar to South Africa’s ZU licence. So only 10% of Japan’s amateurs have an unrestricted licence, which is remarkable considering Japan’s mighty high-power transceiver industry.

Earlier in 2020, I mentioned the commercial pilots who had spotted a man flying a jetpack up at about 3000 feet, as they came in to land at Los Angeles airport.
Well, he’s at it again, but this time he was video-filmed by a flying instructor out with a pupil.

OCN reports that the flight instructor was flying near Palos Verdes, California, on an instructional flight when he spotted the man flying in the opposite direction. The two pilots had no interactions or radio communications; however, the pilot was able to get a video of the encounter and shared it on the Sling Pilot Academy Instagram and YouTube channel. The pilot also reported the sighting to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The video appears to show a jet pack, but it could also be a drone or some other object. If it is a ‘guy in a jet pack’ then it remains to be seen whether it is a legal test flight (jet packs are real – there is a manufacturer near Los Angeles) or possibly related to the jet pack sightings near LAX recently that caused disruptions to air traffic,” Sling Pilot Academy wrote in its post.

The incident is currently under investigation, but there’s not much information to go on. The previous incidents are under investigation, and the FBI got involved in August. This is the first video to be captured of the elusive “jetpack man.”

I’m sure you have all noticed the news coming from South Africa’s main centre trauma hospitals relating to New Year’s Eve and the 1st of January. Baragwanath trauma ward was empty on 31st December and 1st January, a first in the hospital’s history. Cape Town’s two main hospitals had a total of about 12 patients admitted via the emergency wards in the same time, while Karl Bremer trauma centre was empty.

I wonder what part of the relationship between irresponsible alcohol consumption, and reckless driving at night while under the influence people don’t understand…

This is Dave Reece reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.