HAMNET Report 31st January 2021

Researchers from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and The University of Western Australia (UWA) have achieved a new world record for the most stable laser signal transmission through the atmosphere.

Australian researchers collaborated with researchers from the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) and the French metrology lab Systèmes de Référence Temps-Espace (SYRTE) at Paris Observatory for the study, which was published recently in the Nature Communications journal.

The group combined the Australian researchers’ “phase stabilisation” technology with sophisticated self-guiding optical terminals to set the world record for the most stable transmission of a laser signal.

When used in combination, both the technologies enabled laser signals to be transmitted from one point to the other without any interference from the atmosphere. According to the lead author of the study Benjamin Dix-Matthews, who is a PhD student at ICRAR and UWA, the technique effectively removes atmospheric turbulence.

“We can correct for atmospheric turbulence in 3D, that is, left-right, up-down and, critically, along the line of flight. It’s as if the moving atmosphere has been removed and doesn’t exist. It allows us to send highly-stable laser signals through the atmosphere while retaining the quality of the original signal.”

The outcome is the most accurate method in the world to compare the flow of time between two individual locations with the help of a laser system transmitted through the atmosphere.

Dr Sascha Schediwy, a senior researcher at ICRAR-UWA, said that the study has fascinating applications.

“If you have one of these optical terminals on the ground and another on a satellite in space, then you can start to explore fundamental physics. Everything from testing Einstein’s theory of general relativity more precisely than ever before, to discovering if fundamental physical constants change over time.”

The accurate measurements of the technology could also find practical applications in earth science and geophysics.

For instance, this technology could improve satellite-based studies of how the water table changes over time, or to look for ore deposits underground,” added Dr Schediwy.

There are additional prospective advantages for optical communications, which is an emerging field that involves using light to transfer information. Optical communications can ensure secure transmission of data between satellites and Earth, with considerably higher data rates compared to existing radio communications.

“Our technology could help us increase the data rate from satellites to ground by orders of magnitude. The next generation of big data-gathering satellites would be able to get critical information to the ground faster” she said.

The phase stabilization technology using which this record-setting link was established was originally created to synchronize incoming signals for the Square Kilometre Array telescopes. The multi-billion-dollar telescopes are planned to be set up in South Africa and Western Australia.

Thanks to AZO Optics for this report.

Science News carries an interesting report on mankind’s development of a thumb that could oppose the fingers, giving our ancestors the ability to grasp tools, and make more sophisticated tools.

Bruce Bower, writing on Friday the 28th says that thumb dexterity similar to that of people today already existed around 2 million years ago, possibly in some of the earliest members of our own genus Homo, a new study indicates. The finding is the oldest evidence to date of an evolutionary transition to hands with powerful grips comparable to those of human toolmakers, who didn’t appear for roughly another 1.7 million years.

Thumbs that enabled a forceful grip and improved the ability to manipulate objects gave ancient Homo or a closely related hominid line an evolutionary advantage over hominid contemporaries, says a team led by Fotios Alexandros Karakostis and Katerina Harvati. Now-extinct Australopithecus made and used stone tools but lacked humanlike thumb dexterity, thus limiting its toolmaking capacity, the paleoanthropologists, from Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen in Germany, found.

The researchers digitally simulated how a key muscle influenced thumb movement in 12 previously found fossil hominids, five 19th century humans and five chimpanzees. Surprisingly, Harvati says, a pair of roughly 2-million-year-old thumb fossils from South Africa display agility and power on a par with modern human thumbs.

Harvati’s team went beyond past efforts that focused only on the size and shape of ancient hominids’ hand bones. Using data from humans and chimpanzees on how hand muscles and bones interact while moving, the researchers constructed a digital, 3-D model to re-create how a key thumb muscle — musculus opponens pollicis — attached to a bone at the base of the thumb and operated to bend the digit’s joint toward the palm and fingers.

These new models of how ancient thumbs worked underscore the slowness of hominid hand evolution, says paleoanthropologist Matthew Tocheri of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Canada. Australopithecus made and used stone tools as early as around 3.3 million years ago.  “But we don’t see major changes to the thumb until around 2 million years ago, soon after which stone artefacts become far more common across the African landscape,” he says.

Karakostis and Harvati’s 3-D models of ancient thumb dexterity represent a promising advance, says paleoanthropologist Carol Ward of the University of Missouri in Columbia. But further work needs to examine how other thumb muscles interacted with musculus opponens pollicis to influence how that digit worked in different hominid species, she adds.

In a related finding, Ward and her colleagues — including Tocheri — reported in 2014 that a roughly 1.42-million-year-old hominid finger fossil from East Africa pointed to an early emergence of humanlike manipulation skills.

Well it seems to me that these early hominids were preparing their hands to be able to play games on their cell-phones two million years later, and Africa was ahead of the pack! What do you know?

And two new COVID vaccines were reported on at the end of this past week. One is called Novavax, and the other, from Janssen, and Johnson and Johnson, is so far unnamed. The results of their phase three trials have not been reviewed or published yet, but advance notice points to their being effective in creating immunity against our South African variant. Even if their efficacy is not 100%, they nevertheless prevent those who do get COVID, in spite of the vaccine, from getting serious disease, needing hospitalization, or resulting in death. I don’t know about you, but I won’t mind getting COVID-19 if I know it’s not going to be severe enough to kill me. I’ll happily stand in the queue for one of these vaccines!

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

HAMNET Report 24th January 2021

Since Tuesday the 19th, GDACS has been watching Tropical Cyclone Eloise-21, as it has made its Indian Ocean way slowly towards the Northern tip of Madagascar. At that stage maximum wind-speeds of 130Km/h were being seen, and about 700000 people in miscellaneous French Islands, Madagascar and Mozambique were in its path. The projection was for it to cross the coast of Mozambique on Friday night, and the Zimbabwe border on Saturday by 20h00 local time. The port city of Beira was predicted to be directly in its path, and authorities started shutting down port activities on Friday morning. By Thursday, wind speeds of 167km/h were being measured and the alert level had been raised to Red.

Later in the week, the path of the storm was extended to enter Botswana by Monday the 25th, the severity of the storm tending to weaken as it crossed further and further inland. By Friday, predictions also suggested that the Northern parts of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North-West Province would receive heavy downpours and flooding, and that far Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, and Eswatini would also be hit.

Thobeka Ngema, writing for IOL, noted that the KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had placed disaster management teams on alert as tropical storm Eloise approached southern Africa. Warnings about heavy downpours were issued, that could result in flooding in parts of KZN, particularly in the northern areas.

Disaster management teams were also placed in uMkhanyakude district to respond to all incidents related to the storm if necessary.

According to KZN Cogta, the disaster management teams were monitoring areas in uMkhanyakude district that are prone to weather-related incidents so they can assist communities if need be.

Sipho Hlomuka, KZN’s Cogta MEC, urged communities in northern parts of the province to be vigilant and to take all necessary precautions.

Storm Report SA reported that tropical storm Eloise had downgraded to a moderate tropical storm as she moved through the Mozambique Channel but was expected to strengthen drastically over the 48 hours before making landfall over Mozambique on Saturday as an intense tropical cyclone.

“Her current path has changed slightly to the north. She is now expected to make landfall just south of Beira, Mozambique. She will weaken into an overland depression and continue to track south-west into the southern parts of Zimbabwe early Sunday morning and eventually the northern parts of Limpopo around Musina on Sunday afternoon,” Storm Report SA said.

Storm Report SA called on Mozambique to take note that Eloise was a dangerous cyclone that could cause havoc in the areas of landfall on Saturday. There would be a dangerous storm surge, heavy rainfall and wind gusts of up to 210km/h.

The HAMNET Divisions in the North of our country are monitoring the situation and preparing to be activated if needed.

The ARRL News says that HamSCI has issued a call for abstracts for its virtual workshop on March 19th and 20th, hosted by the University of Scranton and sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

“The primary objective of the HamSCI workshop is to bring together the amateur radio community and professional scientists,” said HamSCI founder Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF. The theme is mid-latitude ionospheric physics, “which is especially important to us because the vast majority of hams live in the mid-latitude regions,” Frissell said.

Invited tutorial speakers will be Mike Ruohoniemi of the Virginia Tech SuperDARN initiative and Joe Dzekevich, K1YOW. Elizabeth Bruton, of the Science Museum in London, will be the keynote speaker.

The March conference will also serve as a team meeting for the Personal Space Weather Station project. Frissell said he will coordinate with respective teams for their abstracts.

The HamSCI workshop welcomes abstracts related to development of the Personal Weather Station, ionospheric science, atmospheric science, radio science, space-weather, radio astronomy, and any science topic “that can be appropriately related to the amateur radio hobby.”

I’m fascinated by one aspect of a story concerning a rescue of stranded people with the aid of a drone, down under in Australia. The group of 4 adults and a six-month baby got stuck between two flooded rivers in an area with no cell-phone coverage. With no other means of calling for help, one of the parties hit on a very clever idea. He knew rightly that when you send an SMS on your phone, it will keep trying to send the message until it gets an acknowledgement from a receiving tower.

So, what did he do? He typed the call for help on to his phone, hit the send button, and then attached the phone to his drone. He then flew the drone up as high in the area as was possible, and kept it there for about 5-10 minutes, so that, if there was cell-phone reception, his phone would have time to send the message and receive an acknowledgement from the tower. Then he brought the drone down again, and looked at the phone, and noticed that the SMS had been marked as “sent”, meaning that, while up there, the message had been conveyed to whoever he was trying to contact!

And thus was news of their plight conveyed, and thus were they rescued from their entrapment! Now, isn’t that just so clever? Putting the confirmation indications on the message to good use, and knowing with certainty that your message has been received! I wonder how many of us would have dreamed up that plan!

As I pondered on last week, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, formerly known as the Argus, due to take place in mid-March has been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. The risks to participants, spectators, and officials is just too great, and the correct thing to do in such circumstances is to be pro-active, and prevent things from happening, rather than retro-active and try to sweep the statistics of extra cases, hospitalisations and deaths under the carpet, so to speak.

The three new strains of the coronavirus, one first identified in the UK, one coming out of Brazil, and the third here in South Africa are not more lethal, but are at least 50% more infectious, and a large number of new patients come from younger age-groups, something not seen in the first wave in April.

The good news this week is that numbers in all provinces seem to be coming down,  which is wonderful, because we have winter approaching in a few months’ time, and morbidity and mortality both increase during cold weather.

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

HAMNET Report 17th January 2021

Greg Mossop G0DUB has announced that the next virtual meeting for Emergency Communications Co-Ordinators in IARU region 1 will be held at 13h00 UTC on Saturday the 27th of February. Cisco Webex will be the portal used, and Greg envisions, on the agenda so far, a review of recent events, a discussion of the value of exercises as opposed to regular nets, and whether Region 1 should hold a public Webex conference if Friedrichshafen is again cancelled this year. There is another 6 weeks to this date, so plenty of time for additional items for discussion to be added.

The first event on HAMNET’s events calendar for 2021 in the Western Cape has been cancelled. The 99er Cycle Tour, a sponsored 100km race to raise funds for charity in and around Durbanville, due to take place on the 13th February, was reluctantly cancelled by the organizers the day after our President announced the continuation of level three lockdown regulations until the 15th of February. This is the correct decision to take, and your writer wonders whether the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Two Oceans Marathon down here in the next few months will go the same way. To be completely safe, all these events should actually be cancelled proactively and not regretted after they have had super-spreader effects on the province. As things stand now, the Comrades Marathon has a slightly better chance of taking place, particularly if the roll-out of vaccines has proceeded well. We wait to see how the pandemic unfolds further. However, we do note that the US hams have decided to cancel the Dayton Hamvention in May, because of the likelihood that they will not have got themselves out of Covid-19 trouble by then.

On the weather front, parts of the Karoo as well as most of the northern provinces of South Africa have been receiving heavy downpours resulting in flash-flooding of rivers, and filling of pans, where drought has been the norm for years. HAMNET records its willingness to be put into service if communities are threatened by these floods, and Divisional Directors monitor the situation in their areas carefully.

In case you thought there was nothing to do during the lockdown and with poor propagation conditions in 2020, Southgate Amateur Radio News reports that an Icelandic amateur Billi Jonsson, TF5B, made 30,013 contacts with 156 DXCC entities during 2020, using the mode FT8. Using the MFSK protocol, most of his contacts were on 30m, 8729 in fact, with 40, 20 and 17m each providing about 5200 contacts. There were of course others, to make up the total of 30000. Europe supplied the most replies, followed by North America, Asia, Africa, South America and the Pacific Ocean countries, in that order. Well done Billi! It seems that he had a lot of time on his hands in 2020.

The Millenium Post reports from Kolkata in India that, in a bid to help people access information when phones and conventional broadcast systems fail during natural calamity, Ham radio operators have installed amateur radio satellite communications (using Qatar OSCAR-100 – the first geostationary amateur radio transponder) at Ganga Sagar Island.

“Through this system, we will be able to send live video, photos and data of the situation after the natural disaster anywhere and help can also be sought by making a voice call,” said Ambarish Nag Biswas, custodian and secretary of West Bengal Radio Club (WBRC), an organisation of ham radio enthusiasts in the state. He reiterated that people will be able to send to and receive signals from QO-100, installed in space 36,000 km from the earth, even when mobile phones, telephones and the internet stop working.

Saman Javed, writing in Unilad on Wednesday, says that a NASA spacecraft orbiting Jupiter has reportedly detected a mysterious radio signal from one of the planet’s moons.

The signal, which was detected by NASA’s Juno space probe, came from the moon Ganymede.  The emission, which lasted approximately five seconds, is a first-time detection from the moon.

A NASA ambassador, Patrick Wiggins from Utah, was quick to clarify that the signal was caused by electrons, not aliens.

‘It’s not E.T,’ Wiggins told local news outlet KTVX, which first reported the discovery. ‘It’s more of a natural function,’ he added.

According to the publication, the signal was most likely caused by electrons oscillating at a lower rate than at which they spin, amplifying radio waves. At the time of detection, Juno was flying by at a speedy 111,847mph.

This process was also behind similar signals coming from Jupiter as detected by Juno in 2017. Juno’s mission is to study how the planet Jupiter formed and how it evolved.

‘Juno observes Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic fields, atmospheric dynamics and composition, and evolution,’ NASA said.

At the time of the latest detection, Juno was travelling across the polar region of Jupiter, where magnetic field lines connect to Ganymede. The signal is known to scientists as a ‘decametric radio emission’.

Jupiter’s radio emissions were first discovered in 1955. Since then, scientists have been able to make more sense of how the signals work.

‘A member of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society once built an amateur radio telescope that could detect the electromagnetic radiation from Jupiter,’ Wiggins said.

In 2018, scientists revealed they had observed ‘extraordinary’ electromagnetic waves coming from Ganymede. The waves, also known as chorus waves, were spotted by NASA’s Galileo Probe spacecraft, which was tasked with the mission of observing Jupiter’s wave environment.

‘It’s a really surprising and puzzling observation showing that a moon with a magnetic field can create such a tremendous intensification in the power of waves,’ Yuri Shprits, the lead author of the study, told The Independent at the time.

Scientists believe that the waves are partly caused by Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, which is the strongest in the entire solar system.

‘Chorus waves have been detected in space around the Earth but they are nowhere near as strong as the waves at Jupiter,’ Richard Horne, another co-author said.

‘Even if a small portion of these waves escapes the immediate vicinity of Ganymede, they will be capable of accelerating particles to very high energies and ultimately producing very fast electrons inside Jupiter’s magnetic field,’ he added.

The Solar System, and the Galaxy, never stop springing surprises on us, and remain as enigmatic as ever.

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

HAMNET Report 10th January 2021

In a Hackaday article dated the 3rd of January, Dan Maloney refers to the new digital mode included in the new version of WSJT-X. Dan says that “it looks like there will be a new digital mode to explore soon. The change will come when version 2.4.0 of WSJT-X, the program that forms the heart of digital modes like WSPR and FT8, is released. The newcomer is called Q65, and it’s basically a follow on to the current QRA64 weak-signal mode. Q65 is optimized for weak, rapidly fading signals in the VHF bands and higher, so it’s likely to prove popular with Earth-Moon-Earth fans and those who like to do things like bounce their signals off of meteor trails. We’d think Q65 should enable airliner-bounce too. We’ll be keen to give it a try whenever it comes out.”

Writing in the same article, Dan also refers to our JetPack Man. Humourously, he notes that “it looks like we can all breathe a sigh of relief that our airline pilots, or at least a subset of them, aren’t seeing things. There has been a steady stream of reports from pilots flying in and out of Los Angeles lately of a person in a jetpack buzzing around. Well, someone finally captured video of the daredevil, and even though it’s shaky and unclear — as are seemingly all videos of cryptids — it sure seems to be a human-sized biped flying around in a standing position. The video description says this was shot by a flight instructor at 3,000 feet (914 meters) near Palos Verdes with Catalina Island in the background. That’s about 32 km from the mainland, so whatever this person is flying has amazing range. And, the pilot has incredible faith in the equipment — that’s a long way to fall in something with the same glide ratio as a brick.”

I chuckled at the thought of someone analysing a brick to see what its glide ratio would be! Thanks to Hackaday for both those inserts.

Southgate Amateur Radio News is reporting that a portable amateur radio station for the QO-100 geostationary satellite is active from the icebreaker FS Polarstern on its journey to the Antarctic

AMSAT-DL reports that a portable satellite station for the QO-100 geostationary satellite (Es’hail-2) was commissioned on the icebreaker FS “Polarstern” at 14:23 UTC on December 27, 2020, with an initial QSO between DP0POL/mm and DK3ZL. The very special experiment originated from an idea of Felix DL5XL and Charly DK3ZL. AMSAT-DL spontaneously supported this project by providing a complete 6 Watt transverter radio station, as well as a 75 cm dish on a tripod.

In agreement with the responsible board engineer of Polarstern, Jörg DJ0HO, who is responsible for the callsign DP0POL on Polarstern, the station could be set up in front of a container on the upper deck, depending on the weather situation. Theresa DC1TH and Felix DL5XL are thus able to make radio calls in their spare time during the several-week trip to Antarctica. After the premiere there was an impressive “pile-up” of up to 40 kHz on the narrow-band transponder on the following days.

NASA Science says that, more than halfway to the Red Planet, NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover isn’t just shuttling sophisticated science instruments and tubes to be filled with Earth-bound rock samples. It’s carrying symbols, mottos, and objects that range from practical to playful – everything from meteorite fragments to chips carrying the names of 10.9 million people.

The “extras” are part of a tradition that harks back to the early space age and is now called “festooning” in NASA lingo. A plaque aboard Pioneer 10 and 11 displays a man and a woman for distant space-farers who might find the spacecraft. The Golden Record aboard Voyager 1 and 2 serves a similar purpose. Metal from the wreckage of the Twin Towers on 9/11 was installed on the rovers Opportunity and Spirit, while Spirit also carried a memorial to the crew of Space Shuttle Columbia.

“These kinds of embellishments add artistic elements on missions that are otherwise solely dominated by science and technology, as well as lasting tributes to colleagues who have helped pave the way for humanity’s exploration of space,” said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, who has helped festoon almost all of NASA’s Mars rovers, including Perseverance.

(There is a 1909 penny aboard the Curiosity rover, which nods not just to the hundredth anniversary of the Lincoln penny, but also to how geologists often include a penny for scale when analysing images of rock features.)

There is a calibration “sundial” on Perseverance, a circular disk, not unlike a test pattern, which the rover’s cameras can use to set their colour measurements. It also has small line drawings of early life forms on Earth, including Cyanobacteria, a fern and a dinosaur, and outlines of a female and a male figure. Furthermore it has some inscriptions and a motto.

A second calibration target is for the scanning instruments on the end of the 3 metre long robotic arm. This item has a Martian meteorite included to help fine-tune some settings, and four samples of spacesuit materials to be observed for signs of aging or decay.

Then there’s a placard, with three silicon chips, stencilled with 10,932,295 people’s names, submitted during a NASA campaign long before launch, as well as the essays from the finalists in NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest. The same placard is adorned with a laser-etched graphic depicting Earth and Mars, joined by the star that gives light to both. The phrase “Explore as one”, written in Morse code in the Sun’s rays, connects the two.

Finally, to honour the healthcare workers of the world during the Covid pandemic, there is an emblem styled after the Staff of Aesculapius, the classical emblem of the medical profession, with an entwined snake, and with a globe of the earth at the top, symbolising the impact the pandemic has had, and paying tribute to the perseverance of healthcare workers around the world.

And, boy, do they deserve tributes being heaped upon them! This pandemic is not going to go away anytime soon, and, in spite of the naysayers, will only be brought to an end by vaccinating about 80% of the world’s population.

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

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.