On Monday 19th, Tuesday 20th, and Wednesday 21st July 2021, Marija VK5MAZ and I had the VK100AF callsign allocated to us once again. This is a special event call to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Over the 3 day period we made a total of 389 QSOs.
This included contacts into 30 different DXCC entities:-
Federal Republic of Germany
Republic of Korea
United States of America
We made contacts on 10, 20, 40, & 80m SSB. There was a small opening to VK1, VK2, and VK3 on 10m on Tuesday which I took advantage of. There was no propagation on the 15m band.
10m – 18 QSOs
20m – 137 QSOs
40m – 122 QSOs
80m – 112 QSOs
DX this time around was a little more scarce. I found that there was very little, if any at all, openings on the long path on 20m to Europe during our afternoon. On Wednesday evening there was a small opening to Europe on the short path.
I worked 25 stations in the USA and 4 stations in Canada. This was on 20m SSB and 40m SSB.
The majority of ur contacts were around Australia and into New Zealand. We made a total of 290 QSOs to VK stations and 14 to New Zealand.
We had some interesting contacts during the 3 days. This included contact with Dave G4AKC who was bicycle mobile. We spoke with Dave on both Monday and Wednesday on 20m, with band conditions being much better on Wednesday afternoon.
We also spoke with Sam F4GYG/p who was activating FFF- 0364 in France for the World Wide Flora Fauna (WWFF) program.
It was great to speak with Jack W1FDY, on the Southern Cross DX Net. Jack had been running the net for many years and of recent years propagation has not been terrific.
We also spoke with Raul VK2IMP who was mobile. This was Raul’s first ever mobile contact.
We also logged Erwin VK4ERW who was maritime mobile at Fraser Island.
Park activators included Gerard VK2IO and Deryck VK4FDJL/8.
We spoke with Richard N4ICV in Texas, who was a former aircraft mechanic. Also Len KM4WW ho was former Marine Corp.
THANK YOU to everyone who called. We have the callsign again next month in August.
I am about to launch into another 3 days with the special event callsign of VK100AF to celebrate 100 years of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). I decided to do a little history on the RAAF. It is not a definitive history, but will give you a bit of an idea on the formation of the RAAF.
I have been asked on air a few times whilst operating as VK100AF or VI100AF, what is th oldest Air Force in the world. It appears that the Finnish Air Force is the oldest, having been founded on the 6th day of March 1918. This was about one month prior to the forming of the Royal Air Force in Britain on the 1st day of April 1918.
What about the United States? The United States Air Force (USAF) was initially formed as part of the United States Army on the 1st day of August 1907. It was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on the 18th day of September 1947.
The South African Air Force was formed on the 1st day of February 1920, while the Royal Australian Air Force formed shortly afterwards on the 31st day of March 1921. The Royal New Zealand Air Force was established in 1923. The Royal Canadian Air Force was proclaimed on the 1st day of April 1924.
The Royal Australian Air Force can trace its roots back to the Imperial Conference which was held in London between the 23rd day of May 1911 and the 20th June 1911. The Imperial Conferences were periodic gatherings of government leaders from the self-governing colonies and dominions of the British Empire. This particular Conference was held to mark the occasion of the Coronation of George V on the 22nd day of June 1911.
At the conference it was decided that aviation should be developed within the armed forces of the British empire. Australia was the first dominion to implement this decision and approved the establishment of the Central Flying School (CFS) in 1912. The initial proposed location of the School was to be at Duntroon in the Australian Capital Territory. In July 1913, Point Cook, Victoria, was announced as the preferred location.
The Point Cook Aviation School was established on the 15th day of February 1914, under the supervision of Major E. H. Reynolds, assisted by Captain Henry Petre (an Englishman) and Lieutenant (to become Captain) Eric Harrison (an Australian). It was reported that ‘all of whom received a thorough training in England‘.
In March 1914, the first flights by CFS aircraft took place at Point Cook. Lieutenant Eric Harrison made the first flight in a Bristol Boxkite. Lieutenant Petre flew a Deperdussin later that day and crashed it after snaring his tailplane in telephone wires.
Below is a short video on the history of Point Cook.
The Australian Flying Corps (AFC) were subsequently formed.
World War One broke out in 1914, and shortly afterwards the Australian Flying Corps sent aircraft to what is now north-east New Guinea to assist in capturing German colonies in that region. But before the planes were even unpacked, these colonies surrendered.
The first operational flights of the Flying Corps occurred on the 27th day of May 1915, when the Mesopotamian Half Flight was asked to assist the Anglo-Indian forces in providing air support during the Mesopotamian Campaign against the Ottoman Empire. This is in current day Iraq. The Mesopotamian Half Flight consisted of four Officers, and 41 men
The Flying Corps subsequently saw action in Egypt, Palestine and on the Western Front for the remainder of the war. It was said at the time that the airman’s life was….
‘one of comparative ease interspersed with moments of intense fear’.
During the First World War, a total of 800 Officers and 2,840 men served in the Australian Flying Corps. A total of 175 lost their lives.
The Australian Flying Corps remained part of the Australian Army until 1919. It was disbanded at this time. The Central Flying School continued to operate at Point Cook. In January 1920, the Australian Flying Corps were replaced by the Australian Air Corps (AAC).
They were succeeded by the Australian Air Force which was formed on the 31st day of March 1921.
In May 1921, King George V approved the prefix of ‘Royal’, and this became effective on the 13th day of August 1921. As a result the Royal Australian Air Force became the second Royal Air Arm to be formed in the British Commonwealth. This was following the British Royal Air Force which was founded on the 1st day of April 1918.
It is interesting to note that then the RAAF was formed, it had more aircraft that it did personnel. The RAAF had a total of 153 aircraft, with 21 Officers and 128 other ranks.
The first Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force was Air Marshall Sir Richard WIlliams KBE, CB, DSE (b. 1890. d. 1980). He was one of the first trainees at Point Cook.
During the Second World War, Australian air and ground personnel from the RAAF saw service in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, over the North Atlantic, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the Mediteranian, India, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, Thailand, China, the Netherland East Indies. New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines, and Borneo.
During late 1944, the RAAF had a total of 182,000 personnel and 6.200 aircraft in 61 squadrons. In 1945, the RAAF was the fourth largest Air Force in the world, after the USA, USSR and the United Kingdom.
Over 215,000 men and women served with the RAAF between 1939-1945. A total of 9,870 Air Force personnel lost their lives. About 55% of these deaths occurred in the war against Germany, in the air over Europe.
Following the Second World War, the RAAF has served in the Berlin Airlift, Korean War, Malayan Emergency, Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation, Vietnam War, East Timor, Iraq War, Afghanistan and the military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Since 1945, over 60 RAAF personnel have lost their loves in various conflicts or during operational accidents.
Today, the RAAF has about 259 aircraft, of which 110 are combat.
The video below was made by the Commonwealth Film Unit in 1971 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the RAAF.
The video below is the RAAF’s 100 year fly over in Canberra.
Last night (Saturday 17th July 2021) was the 2021 Trans Tasman Low Band Contest. The aim of the contest is……
“to encourage Low Band activity between VK and ZL.”
Only contest bands 160, 80, and 40M are allowed with SSB, CW and Digital (RTTY OR PSK).
The contest ran for a 6 hour period, from 0800 UTC until 1400 UTC.
Participants who take part in the contest receive a participation certificate. From 2018 this contest is an official Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) Contest and will count towards the Peter Brown Contest Champion Awards.
I completely forgot about the contest and didn’t get out into the shack until about 40 minutes into the contest.
I made a total of 174 contacts during the contest and a claimed score of 1,715 points.
My first contact was with Alan VK4SN. My final contact was with Rob VK2MT.
Almost all of my contacts were on the 80m band. In fact of the 174 contacts, 159 were on the 80m band. I made just 15 QSOs on 40m into VK2, VK3, VK4, VK6, & VK7.
During the contest I logged just 5 New Zealand stations: ZL1RQ, ZL3VZ, ZL4U, ZL2FE, and ZL4RMF.
The contest was split into 3 x 2 hour blocks. I found the middle block to be extremely difficult, with signals way down compared to usual. I was going to give it away, but decided to persevere, and I am glad I did, as the 80m band really improved dramatically during the last 2 hour block.
My final silo activation for the Silos On The Air (SiOTA) program for Saturday was Quarantine (Pinnaroo) VK-QRE-5 which is located near the Quarantine station on the Mallee Highway.
By the time I reached the silo it was totally dark. I pulled over to the side of the Mallee Highway, just short of the Quarantine station. This is also being used by South Australia Police at the moment as a COVID-19 checkpoint.
I was directly opposite the silo, but I only managed the blurry photo below due to it being pitch black. I was just short of the road block and pulled over on the side of the road. I was sure I might get a visit from a police officer to see what I was up to, but that didn’t happen much to my surprise.
From looking at the aerial view, this appears to be quite a big grain facility.
As time was really pushing on, and I had a 250 km trip home, this was a quick activation. I only operated on 80m, logging a total of 8 stations. First in the log was Nev VK5WG, followed by Marija VK5MAZ, and then Ian VK5IS as my third contact to qualify the silo.
I am sorry for not trying 40m and 20m, but I was getting tired and hungry and knew I had a big drive home. I drove back into Pinnaroo and went to the local roadhouse for a magnificent steak sandwich with the lot. I then hit the road and headed for Ashbourne.
THANK YOU to everyone who called me during the day during my elevn silo activations.
The next silos for me were the Pinnaroo silos VK-NO5. Pinnaroo is located about 241 km south-east of the city of Adelaide.
Pinnaroo is a major centre for the surrounding wheat, barley, sheep, and mixed farming area. The area was first settled in 1868 when the ‘Pinnaroo Run’ was established by William Butcher. Wool was carted over rough tracks either to the Murray River or to Kingston in the south-east of South Australia.
In 1885, the Commissioner of Crow Lands, Mr. Playford, and the Surveyor-General, Mr. G.W. Goyder, explored the countryside around Pinnaroo and a decision was made to open the land for agricultural settlement. In 1892, several Hundreds were surveyed. The Hundred of Pinnnaroo was proclaimed on the 4th day of January 1894. A Correspondent reported:-
“If it has proved a failure to the wealthy why ask the poor farmer to go there.”
In 1903, a Mr. H.M. Martin of Stonyfell described the Pinnaroo area as follows:-
“The whole of the 80 miles from Coonalpyn was silent, sombre and depressing. A great portion of the tracks was over heavy sandhills and gullies, relieved here and there by abandoned sheep stations. The stock had all been removed – such as had not died long before, and the empty huts and weed-grown sheep yards made the plain a sort of abomination od desolation. The hills and gullies were alike clothed with dark-coloured, unvarying, more or less worthless scrub, the pine trees and mallee being crooked and misshapen. Here and there a few sheoaks made a welcome change, but the dense scrub, without any lights and shadows, gave one the impression of a vast level plain. Fifty six years ago I inspected the Pinnaroo country and found it a worthless desert of white sand and drift. In 1865 I was again there to witness a few sheep starving to death…It is to be hoped that the Legislative COuncil will quash this extremely undesirable measure’.”
However there was a more favourable report in The Chronicle (Adelaide) on the 2nd day of July 1904, suggesting a ‘favourable report of the land for wheat-growing’.
The town of Pinnaroo was proclaimed on the 17th day of November 1904. The Pinnaroo school opened in 1906.
At the 2016 Australian Census, the locality of Pinnaroo had a population of 712 of which 547 lived in and around its town centre.
There are various theories on the origin of the name Pinnaroo. It is believed that the name derives from the aboriginal word ‘pinaru’, a Ngarkat tribal name for the district. Others suggest it is a corruption of the aboriginal word ‘peintaru’ meaning ‘limestone’. While others suggest it is an aboriginal word meaning ‘big men’.
The video below which I found on You Tube will give you a good feel of Pinnaroo (there is no sound on the video).
Prior to heading to the silo I visited the Pinnaroo Wildlife Park which is opposite the caravan park on South Terrace. Marija and I have been here previously and always pop in and make a donation to have a look at the various native birds and mammals.
The Pinnaroo railway line ran east from the Adelaide-Melbourne line at Tailem Bend to Pinnaroo. The line continues into Victoria to Ouyen where it joined the Mildura line. The line opened on the 14th day of September 1906 and was extended to the South Australia-Victoria State border on the 29th day of July 1915. In May 1995 it was announced that the line to the west of Pinnaroo would be converted from broad gauge to standard gauge. Work was delayed until 1996 due to a large grain crop. A small part of the line was converted in 1996 but was converted back for the 1997 grain harvest. To continue the journey to Adelaide, the grain was transhipped at Tailem Bend.
On the 2nd day of July 1998 the last broad gauge train ran on the track. The line was reopened on the 25th day of November 1998. Due to the Victorian line remaining as broad gauge, trains could not operate over the entire length of the railway. Pinnaroo was a break of gauge point. Sadly the line closed in July 2015, with Viterra announcing that not more grain would be carried by rail. Ironically, as the South Australian line closed, the Victorian State Government was upgrading its end of the line for regional freight.
The photos below (c/o Trove) show the Pinnaroo line and railway station & yards.
I then headed to the silos which are located on Silo Road on the western side of the town. They are run by Viterra. The Pinnaroo area was subject to a drought between 2016 – 2019. Heavy rain fell in June after the last heavy winter/spring rain fell in September 2016. Local grain farmers were extremely happy.
First in the log was Brett VK2VW, followed by Marija VK5MAZ, and then Ross VK3BEL. I had qualified the silo. I went on to log a total of 12 stations on 40m from VK2, VK3, VK5, and Vk6. It was nice to get Peter VK3ZPF in the log. This was Peter’s first every silo chase. I was also very pleased to speak with John VK6WC all the way over in Western Australia.
I then moved to 3.610 on the 80m band and logged 6 stations from VK5 and New Zealand. I was very pleasantly surprised to log Matt ZL4NVW on 80m.
Time was really marching on, so I packed up and headed to my final silo for the day, just a few km up the Mallee Highway.