About SOTA

General information about Summits on the Air

Introduction - a brief history of SOTA

The Summits on the Air amateur radio award programme was the idea of John Linford, G3WGV. Although he had the idea many years ago, it was not until he ran across the European Adventure Radio website run by Richard G3CWI, that he put the idea down on paper. He emailed it to Richard with the a single question "should we try to get this going?". The original idea ran to a few paragraphs on a single side of A4 paper but it took well over 1,000 man-hours of work to turn that idea into a viable award programme. Many people helped along the way, including Matthew M5EVT, Alan M1EYO and Roger MW0IDX. Much of the award was discussed and dissected on the internet before it was launched on 2 March 2002. England and Wales launched first, soon to be followed by Scotland.

Although neither John nor Richard envisaged huge numbers of people participating, the award was designed to be scalable from the outset. A key objective was making the award internet-based, for this an online database was needed. Fortunately, Richard knew Gary Bleads, G0HJQ who just happened to be a professional database designer. John and Gary met up and, after much hard work, SOTA had an "industrial strength" database. Gary assures us that it is sized such that it could deal with all the amateur radio contacts made in the whole World if required!

Simply having an award and a support infrastructure does not ensure success however, and a huge effort was put in to publicise the award. Both John and Richard wrote articles, gave numerous talks to radio clubs, at rallies and exhibitions and ran SOTA stands at various events. Over 1,000 leaflets were given out in the first 18 months of the scheme. But even that was not enough. International publicity was gained by constant news releases to overseas organisations and finally, a keen band of activators made it their business to explain SOTA to everyone they contacted on the air.

Today, SOTA has hundreds of participants in Associations across the World, all sharing the same award ethos and infrastructure.

Note that SOTA is an award programme not a club or society; as such you can't be a "Member" of SOTA but you can certainly be a participant!

Funding and Management Structure

The running of SOTA relies on the good-will and considerable efforts of a small Management Team which operates as a co-operative. The Management Team gives its time freely to allow the award to function efficiently, allowing you to participate and to enjoy a wide range of facilities, all of which have been carefully specified and designed to enhance the award.

There are no charges to participate in SOTA and award certificates are sold "at cost". Funding for running the award (publicity leaflets, web-hosting etc.) comes from the Management Team. Occasionally, SOTA branded goods may be made available which will include a small profit, all of which is ploughed back into running SOTA.

From time-to-time people with particular skills that may be helpful to the further the aims and objectives of the Programme may be co-opted onto the Management Team. Individual Associations have their own Association Managers (see the Associations page) who are responsible for running SOTA in their own country - thanks!

HF Antenna on Black Hill

HF Antenna on Black Hill (MM0FMF)

The Management Team

Brian Carter, G8ADD
Reflector Moderator

Born in 1941, one of my earliest vivid memories is being taken up a hill in South Wales as a
toddler. That was the start of a life­long love affair! I started building receivers as a teenager which
led to short­wave listening and amateur radio. I was licensed in 1964 and combined my two interests with portable operations, even bemusing my companions by carrying an FT­290R up rock climbs! I discovered SOTA not long after it had begun and immediately recognised it as something that I had always needed. Like most of us I have other interests – photography, Earth sciences, Astronomy, music and gardening, where I specialise in growing rhododendrons.

My main area of responsibility in SOTA is moderating the Reflector, mainly in making sure that people do not get carried away in disputes and damage the affable and helpful atmosphere that distinguishes the Reflector from many other amateur radio chat sites.

Contact Brian

Jon Earnshaw, G4ZFZ
SOTAwatch & SOTA Website

Jon was licenced in his teens and became a very keen climber during his twenties. He lived with his wife and three daughters in the Scottish Highlands for many years and was very active as an activator during that time. Now living in Worcestershire and quite busy with work he gets very limited time for radio or the mountains at the moment. Jon's professional background is in internet services and enterprise software development.

His responsibilities within the SOTA MT is looking after the maintenance and development of the SOTA website and SOTAwatch.

Contact Jon

Rob Harwood, G0HRT
Associations Manager

I took up an engineering apprenticeship when I left school, joining an aircraft industry to study instrumentation, electronics, radio and radar. Six colleagues in my department were radio amateurs so I guess I was destined to follow, firstly as G1RJK and then in 1987 as GM0HRT. I studied engineering at Brunel University and got my MBA at Strathclyde University before setting-up my own company designing and project managing new vocational colleges for a number of well known industries. I have now retired and work is behind me, so I am keen to re-establish my interest in amateur radio after a gap of twelve years non-activity. I was surprised to see how the hobby has moved on technically and especially pleased to find how the SOTA Award had galvanized large numbers of 'listening' radio amateurs into regular activity and attracted many new people to the hobby too! For these reasons, I am very keen to support the work of the SOTA MT and a keen Chaser being well placed centrally in the G/LD, NP, SP and GW/NW regions. I expect to start my own activations very soon with a particular interest on the technical side of radio and have been told I should be taking plenty of outdoor exercise for health reasons. What a great way to combine the two!

Contact Rob

Barry Horning, GM4TOE

I was first licensed in the late 1960's as GM8DTH whilst studying Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Glasgow University. After leaving University I worked for several years for Racal designing a range of military manpack transceivers before moving to Marconi in a management role. In the early 1980s I returned to Scotland and the village of Tomintoul and was employed in the oil industry living and working in the Far East and USA. I eventually 'mastered' CW and gained my Class A licence, GM4TOE, in 1983. Retraining as a cabinetmaker in 1996 returned my sanity and I currently run a small gallery and shop with my xyl in Tomintoul. Hill walking and SOTA have provided the ideal opportunity to regain my fitness and to explore the glorious mountains in the Cairngorms National Park where I live and work.

Contact Barry

John Linford, G3WGV
Founder & President

John came up with the original idea of SOTA and is the founder of the programme. As President he is a non-executive ex-officio member of the Management Team but is not involved in the day to day running of the programme. John has held the callsign G3WGV since 1967, aged 16 and also holds a USA Extra Class license, N3GV. His principal interests are HF CW DXing and contesting. He has been on numerous DXpeditions, writes amateur radio software and runs the GB3WES 5MHz beacon. He has been climbing the mountains since he was a teenager and has mountaineered in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. Other interests include flying small aeroplanes, classical music and real ale. John moved to the Eden Valley, close to the Lake District, in 2001 having taken early retirement from his career as an executive in corporate telecommunications. He now owns a small company providing aircraft rental and air traffic engineering services at Carlisle Airport.

Contact John

Simon Melhuish, G4TJC
Summits Team

Having first been licensed whilst still at school, my interest in RF lead me into a career in radio astronomy, much of which has been spent at Jodrell Bank and its main research centre in Manchester. At work my main responsibility is cryogenic receiver technology development, which in practice largely means plumbing! I have always enjoyed taking radios up hills. Since discovering SOTA and contracting the activator's bug I am to be found hiking around North Wales or the Pennines most weekends, even (or especially) when I should be doing something else.

Contact Simon

Elliott Pisor, K6EL

I was first licensed in 1954 as K6ILM and climbed regularly with little radios from then through early 2012, when I discovered SOTA. I do DX and a few contests, and now I climb for SOTA whilst scheming about ways to earn more certificates under the handicap of having only one point summits easily available (even writing some of the rules myself). My other activities have included VHF aero-mobile from my helicopter and P-51D Mustang, racing automobiles and motorcycles, collecting antique radios, and playing musical instruments. My education included engineering at University of California-Berkeley and law at University of California-Hastings. I still practice law as time allows, after my full time job: SOTA. I co-founded SOTA in Hawai'i, and I'm pleased to be the first full member of the MT outside the UK.

Contact Elliott

Tom Read, M1EYP
Publicity, SWL Log & Summits List Updates

Tom became licensed in 2001 after 16 years as an active SWL. Shortly afterwards he discovered SOTA and the joys of hillwalking. Living in Macclesfield adjacent to the Peak District on the doorstep, walking was always an interest for Tom, but not the passion it has now become! Tom is married to Marianne, with two lads Jimmy (M3EYP and keen SOTA activator) & Liam. He is a secondary school maths teacher, musician, and occasional writer for several radio magazines.

Contact Tom

Andy Sinclair, MM0FMF
Database Manager

I've been a software engineer since 1983 working on a diverse range of products and devices from massive SONAR systems to tiny PIC based devices and currently work producing simulations of chips for the mobile phone and auto industries. I've always been interested in radio and spent my youth playing with war surplus receivers and teletypes. First licenced in 1990 my main interests are now QRP HF operation and taking part in QRO VHF/UHF contests. After years of being a lazy and idle, health problems finally forced me to take regular exercise and SOTA was the ideal way to combine that exercise with radio. I had done some hillwalking as a teenager but since starting SOTA in 2006 I've become addicted getting out into the countryside which is helped by living near Edinburgh in the middle of the GM/SS region.

Contact Andy