My conciliation with Parks on the Air
by Thomas (DM1TBE)
POTA and I had a very one-side relationship so far.
Roughly a year ago I tried to activate a park, but although I spotted myself, I had not been able to make a single QSO. In April last year, I tried it again, with the same result. Luckily, I was on a SOTA summit and spotting me on SOTA brought me enough QSOs to make it a successful activation for both, POTA and SOTA. So I decided to disregard POTA and my only POTA activity was watching Thomas (K4SWL) nice videos on YouTube.
My bad experience with POTA was probably due to two factors:
- I only had an intermediate license previously, which limited me on HF to the 10, 15 and 80 meter bands and
- POTA was no as popular in Europe and Germany in particular as it was and is in the US. While SOTA and the Flora & Fauna program already had a very active community in Europe for years, POTA had a hen and egg problem.
However, with the increasing popularity of portable operations, POTA has also gained some traction in Europe. I have the feeling that every time I take a look at the spots on the POTA website, I see more European stations.
Things here in Germany have changed for the better, too. POTA got a German website (parksontheair.de) and a community called “Draussenfunker.de” (“Outdoor ham”) with website + Discord that became very active with those pursuing outdoor activities in general and POTA in particular. Lately, local POTA coordinators have been named, who started to add new parks to the program.
I thought suggesting a recreation area close to my home would be a good idea. A few days later I had the brand new POTA park DA-0410 30 minutes away. The park has a size of 6.3 km² / 1,567 acres and a peak elevation of 780 m / 2559 ft, which is also the SOTA summit Kaltes Feld (DM/BW-659).
My plan was to operate from the clearing on the top plateau, where there is also a mountain hut with restaurant. The 2 km / 1.25 mi trail was not very difficult with an incline of just 105 m / 344ft as the parking area is already at an elevated level.
Although the park extends to the proximity of the parking area at the Hornberg gliding airfield, I wanted to be in the SOTA activation zone due to my bad experiences with POTA activations. The gliding site was founded nearly 100 years ago. After the First World War, the Allies largely banned motor flight sports in Germany, so gliding airfields, such as this one, popped up across Germany.
The weather was cold and foggy on this Saturday morning, with temperatures below 0° C / 32° F. I have been there many times before, with and without a radio, so finding it was not an issue.
I wanted to be as flexible as possible band-wise, so I have decided against the 15 / 30 meter band end-fed half-wave and went with the PAC-12.
As usual, I have taken my Elecraft KX3 with the BaMaKeY TP-III paddle with me along with a good deal of hot tea.
One very important piece of equipment, that I have not mentioned yet, was a thermal mat to sit on. Together with hot tea, the mat made it possible to operate for nearly one hour.
I called CQ and even before I have spotted myself, I had my first QSO. Over the next 50 minutes I logged 29 QSOs in total with 12 different countries. It worked like a charm.
I am very please with the result. I got well above the required number of QSOs, and I am sure, if I had more time, I would have made even more contacts.
Dear POTA: You have one new activator! 🙂