The Ascension Island passport stamp
We arrived at Ascension at 07:30 on Tuesday morning. There was a bar in the transit area but little else. If you make a donation to charity, they will oblige by making a rather fancy stamp in your passport to show that you have visited the island. I had initially hoped that I might be able to stay in Ascension for a couple of days but this proved to be difficult on this particular trip. Maybe I should come back for the autumn equinox?
Watch out for the minefields!
Ascension was pretty much as I
expected it to be, barren, covered in black sand and with every hillock sporting
a dish or a log-periodic. Flying in showed the island in all its small glory, a
barren rock sticking out of the sea in the middle of a big ocean. Although I
understand that there is much vegetation on the central mountain, I didn't see
it. I did look for
the 6m beacon antenna but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The stopover was soon over and we
were called up for the next seven and half hour leg to Mount Pleasance Airport (MPA
as it is known) on East Falkland, 35 miles south-west of Port Stanley.
During the stopover several guys were telling stories of the difficulties encountered on this this leg caused by weather. As there is no close alternative airport to divert to if the weather is bad in MPL, the plane has to turn around and return to Ascension hence causing significant delay if the weather stays bad in the Falklands. I was warned that I could be trapped on the islands for days!
Unexploded ordinance warning
We arrived at MPA at 14:30 and after
disembarkation we received a lecture on the problems of the Falklands. Problems?
Well, being careful to obey the minefields signs is one of them. There are still
several hundred uncleared minefields sprinkled around Stanley. We were shown
many types of munitions that we had to look out for and avoid!
There seems to be only one main road in the Falklands and this is 35 miles of rough road connecting the airport with Port Stanley. We arrived at the Hotel Malvina at about 17:00 and after checking in at the hotel I immediately went in search of Keith, VP8CMT's house. It turned out he was within a three minute walk from the hotel.
After getting a cup of tea from Marilyn, Keith's wife (who was going to catch the plane back to the UK for a holiday the next day), it took but a few minutes to assemble the Tonna. Keith then arrived back from work. We then had the whole family at the top of the tower putting the 6m beam underneath the tri-bander - in the dark! After connecting everything up, I discovered that the FT650 brought all the way from the UK would not transmit! Fortunately, Keith had a TS690s and that was what I ended up using. There was nothing on 6m that night so I went back to the hotel, had dinner and a few drinks went to bed wondering how much propagation I would get in the next few days. Most of the daily reports below were written each evening in the bar!