At the beginning of January I shared here some receptions, happening in the mid-afternoon local hours (15.30-17.30 UTC), from the Pacific Area. They basically consisted of stations in W7 and E51, plus a couple signals from California. Since the first time, I started wondering whether these above the average logs came to my location (in the heart of the Italian Alps) via the short or long path.
I have been, since the beginning, doubtful about the direct way. My location has quite a mountains wall on the west, and I never experienced such good results from that area of the world (even the KVOH test in September 2013 wasn’t here as strong as everywhere else!). Were these signals travelling “just” the 9500 kilometers of the “short” way, why had I to wait some six years to hear them for the first time?
So, I started enquiring about the long path. On the paper it looked to me almost impossible. Distance from the West coast to me, calculated that way, rose to some 30.350 kilometers. However, shortwaves are made to go far, as they’ve no boundaries (which are only in human beings’ mind) and when it comes to radio propagation you can’t discard any theory, unless you can objectivally prove the opposite.
January was approaching to an end, and signals from that corner of the world continued to be well received here. On the last day of the month, something happened that finally cleared the fog. On 14160 kHz, at 16.16 UTC, W6CCP, Seymour in Anza (California), booming as a local station, was explaining to a German colleague (basically unheard on this end) how his beam antenna was aimed.
You can guess the answer: south-westernly, shooting the signal down to New Zealand, and then to Europe through the Indian ocean, after crossing South Pole (see the image opening this post, to have the right trajectory). Getting a back-lobe signal via the short path, with such a directional aerial, was virtually impossible, so it couldn’t be nothing but what Seymour was explaining.
My doubts were wiped away: I was getting long path from the West Coast! Something that I only had read about (and dreamed of) was happening to me. Now that I knew, next in mind was “ok, I can hear, but – given I can hear that well – would I be able to be heard?”. On this, I’ve to thanks W6CCP for his kind availability (with 100 watts and a vertical in a stone nest, chance zero to dig my way in a pile-up). We tried the contact on 2nd February 2014, at 15.30 UTC (when the long path window just opened here), on 14161,5 kHz.
I remained speechless, and quite unable to carry on the QSO, when he acknowledged my answer. At first with some difficulties (Seymour gave me a 2/3 report), then my signal stabilized a bit (climbing to 2/5), and it was easier. As it happened with E51AND, when our contact was over, the pile-up exploded with everyone calling.
“New generation” of OM looks less attracted by these “propagation jokes”, but I enjoyed a lot the observation I made on 20 meters from January on! Haven’t I find this way, these world areas wouldn’t be in my log. Plus, a voice coming from California, telling me “you’ve made it on a 30 thousand kilometers path”, will remain a defining moment of my OM experience. Here comes the recording, as always (made on my end, via pc sound card, and so only Seymour is heard).
73 de Chris!