Little Diomede Is., NA-150
17 March 2019 - 11:30 pm (UTC = local + 8 hrs)
The flight from Toronto to Seattle was uneventful. I arrived on March 16 at 9 pm, and spent the night on the airport. I had to check-in by 3 am, and will all the luggage it didn't make much sense to go to one of the airport hotels, only for a few hours of sleep. On March 17, the flight from Seattle to Anchorage departed at 6 am, and from there, to Nome, where I arrived around 11:30 am. All luggage arrived too, in apparently good condition. There are about 4,000 people in Noam, and the little city appears buried in the snow. There is at least 50 cm of snow everywhere, but there are cars here and there on the streets road completely covered in deep snow. Temperature is around -15C. I spent most of the afternoon and evening in the company of Ramon, AL7X, wo lived here for about 55 years. I want to check with the heli company for tomorrow's flight to Diomede, but when I phoned them I only got their answering machine. A pre-recorded message indicated that I need to be at their hangar at 1 pm. I will try to get in touch with them in the morning, in order to check on any update.
10 March 2019
Important development. Adrian (KO8SCA) has graciously offered to lend me his KPA-500 amplifier for this project, which weights about 10 kg. Since the maximum luggage weight for the helicopter flight from Nome to Diomede remains 23 kg, I will be able to take advantage of Adrian's offer because Ramon (AL7X) generously accepted to allow me to leave my suitcase and carry-on case with him, in Nome, before boarding the helicopter. As a result, I will me to reduce the total luggage weight by almost 8 kg. Additionally, I will re-pack my radio equipment in order to eliminate the use of one of the two hard (Pelikan) cases, which will save me an additional 2 kg, thus making room for the 10 kg of the amplifier.
In will be able to pick up the amplifier in Toronto, coming Friday morning (March 15), then drive back home and test it. That afternoon everything must be packed and ready for the journey to Little Diomede. I will depart home on Saturday (March 16) lunch time to catch the Toronto Airport bus which leaves Kingston at 12:30 pm local time.
3 March 2019
I will have limited internet access on the island, which should allow me to post notes on this website as frequently as necessary to keep everyone updated on my activities. Since there is no internet communication near my operating room in the village, please refrain from posting requests on the DX Summit, since I will not be able to attend to them.
During my stay on Little Diomede, I will make a presentation about amateur radio at the local school, and possibly organize training and operating sessions for the children aged 12-16. Under the FCC rules, third party communication under my supervision is allowed only with NA and SA stations, which we all know that will be very difficult from the village. However, if we will be able to copy any NA/SA stations in SSB from the village location, please be aware that the children may be at the mic and so exercise patience and courtesy. Thank you all in advance!
2 March 2019
The entire ice pack between the two Diomede islands has been swept away last night, as the weather warmed up and the ocean swell and currents did the rest. While cold weather can return during the next couple of weeks, I have been working with my contact on the island to organize a different logistical plan for Camp 2. If cold weather returns and the ice next to the island shores will be present, I will attempt reaching Camp 2 by pulling a sled. However, it appears that we must be prepared to attempt climbing the hill through the snow, in an attempt to setup camp on its top. The presence of wildlife is less likely up there, but finding our way through snow with heavy loads and avoid slipping on and off the rocks will be nothing short of a crazy adventure!
1 March 2019
There are currently no functioning snowmobiles on the island. As such, my plan for Camp 2 consists in packing everything on one or two sleds, which my guide and I will pull over ice. The strait between the two Diomede islands was entirely covered by ice, but during the last week the ice started to melt away in the middle of it.
25 February 2019
I have booked today the return plane tickets to Nome (Alaska), and those for the helicopter rides from there to the island and back. Here is my trip schedule:
- March 16: depart home, drive to Toronto, and fly to Seattle and Anchorage;
- March 17: fly from Anchorage to Nome, and overnight there;
- March 18: fly to Little Diomede;
- March 27: fly back to Nome, and fly to Anchorage, and from there to Seattle;
- March 28: fly from Seattle to San Antonio, attend the IOTA Bash (Mar 29-30);
- March 31: fly from San Antonio to Toronto, and drive back home.
I will operate as VE3LYC/KL7 from Little Diomede between March 18 and 26.
23 February 2019
Little Diomede Island (NA-150) is located in the middle of the Bering Strait, at a latitude of about 65 degrees N. About 4 km to the west lies Big Diomede, across the border with Russia. Little Diomede has a population of approximately 100, and has been activated on HF bands by KL7/W6IXP in Jul/Aug 1998, and by KL7RRC/P for a several hours in Jul 2012.
This IOTA reference sits at 11.5% of the IOTA Most Wanted List world-wide, and so it is in demand by the IOTA chasers. Worth mentioning, only 8% of all credits issued and pending today on the IOTA website are claimed by NA stations. As such, this particular NA reference is even rarer in NA that the figure indicated above. The reason for this is because both previous operations took place from the village, and the propagation from there to North America is obstructed by a steeply rising massive volcanic hill about 330 m high.
I have recently received the permission from the local Village Council to visit and operate a radio station from Little Diomede. My plan is to operate from the village for 3-4 days (Camp 1 on the map below), which will offer an unobstructed path to AF, AS, EU, and OC, and from the northeastern corner of the island for another 2-3 days (Camp 2), which will provide an open path to NA and SA. I will attempt to establish this latter camp in winter, with the help of two local guides. We will transport all the necessary equipment by snowmobiles, driving them to the campsite over the frozen ocean, very close to the shore. There is no access over land to the northeastern part of the island.
Village (Camp 1) and remote station (Camp 2) locations on Little Diomede.
In order to reach the north-eastern corner of the island, the operation must take place in winter. Taken also into consideration the propagation conditions, I am looking to schedule this activity during the second half of March or very early April. Camping outside of the village during this period of time presents a serious hazard, due to the potential presence of the polar bears. As such, the guides will install a bear fence and will have the necessary material to ensure protection. However, if a polar bear shows up, we will have to cease operations and retreat immediately back to the village.
This is a challenging and expensive project, and I am looking for any possible support from the IOTA community. Donors will be acknowledged on this website!
SPONSORS & DONORS