Beginner’s Corner March 2019

Islands of Fun


We will take a look at the Islands of the Air, another of the fine OTA programs, but before we do, there is a program that covers U. S. islands that bears mentioning first.

The US Islands Program has announced its 25th anniversary this year. I’ll bet you didn’t even know there was such a program as the US Islands Program.  I didn’t either, and I have been an amateur radio operator for 11 years this month.

They are offering a commemorative award for both chasers and activators for contacts made between January 1 and December 31. Remember, an activator goes out to a place to activate a site, and a chaser contacts the activator.

To qualify, chasers must confirm 25 islands during 2019, as a club or individual, and activators must qualify or activate 25 islands in any combination, making at least 15 contacts for both new island qualification and island activation. This award can be issued to multiple club members using a single call sign, or to an individual.

There are permanent rule changes that went into effect on January 1: The minimum contact count for island qualifications has been lowered from 25 to 15; the contact requirement of two DXCCs during an island qualification has been dropped, and the bands eligible for island qualifications have been expanded to include 6 meters and satellite contacts.

OK, the second rule is perfect for technician class operators.  They do not allow 2 meter or 70 cm QSO, unfortunately. So, get out your 6-meter setup or purchase one.  Ask an Elmer to help you, or buddy up with a friend who has a general or extra class license.

You can use a boat if you wish, but part of your setup must be on the island itself. Lake Lanier Island is the first island that comes to mind. In fact, the North Fulton club held a QSO party and an annual picnic there last year. This might be a good activity for GARS.

The web site,, has a list of islands that are recognized by the program. What if you want to activate an island that is not on their list? They have a form you can get on their web site to request your island to be added.

Once you have your island number and you have made your plans, contact the web master and they will add your activity to their calendar. They have a Facebook page, and it is recommended you join it. When you make your plans, be sure to notify GARS on our reflector so we all can “chase” you. In addition, you will certainly want to spot yourself on the traditional DX spotting sites.

 I am not certain if the coastal islands of Georgia count in the US Islands Program, but there are at least 15 islands that are inland.  There are certainly islands in neighboring states, as well. With a bit of planning, your trip to activate an island could be your adventure of the year.  For full detains, check out their web site, Good island hunting!