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!
The Management Team
Brian Carter, G8ADD
I was licensed in 1964 and eventually got a 70 cm homebrew station on the air in early 1965. One of my earliest memories is walking on a mountain in South Wales as a toddler, and I combined an interest in the hills with amateur radio as soon as possible, with various portable operations. Eventually I got an FT290R1 and often took it in the rucsac on rock climbs and scrambles, operating from the top as an excuse to rest. The results bear no comparison to modern activations, sometimes no contacts were made at all, which goes to show the value of the SOTA infrastructure! Other interests include photography, geology, astronomy, music (I used to play classical clarinet and jazz sax) and gardening - I grow a small collection of rhododendrons including a couple of dozen species, some of which flowered for the first time in captivity in my patch! I like to chase DX on 6 and 2m, and participate in regular SSTV nets on 2 - look for us on 144.575 using Hampal.
Jim Coombes, G0CQK
In my very early teens, a spell of illness left me bored so my Dad, an ex WW2 aircraft navigator on the ball bearing run, introduced me to maps and navigation, something which has stayed with me. Later in my teens, I played about with radio, firstly with crystal sets then valve radio. A friend of my Dad fascinated me as he had regular scheds with JY1, and I was encouraged to do more but then education and other interests intervened. So my interest remained dormant for many years. In the early 80s I found out that I could get a license without needing CW. I was up for that, took classes, and became licensed only to start practising CW with those who qualified with me. Somehow I passed the CW test about a year later and looking at the list of call signs coming up chose mine. Who else but someone as perverse as me would choose to have a call sign easily confused with a CQ call and ending with a K. Many years of business travel unexpectedly arrived and radio activity became nil with a loss of CW. Then I retired and discovered SOTA in 2004 and of course this required an update of my mapping skills and some build up of fitness to get up to those summits with a heavy pack, although I have always kept up my hill walking activity. I am not a fervent activator but very casual, I plod on when I can fit it in but being in NE England can activate some of the less frequently activated SB & SS summits. I'd like to get my CW back but now find it soporific, so may have to be content with FM & SSB. I recently recovered my first call sign G1GDM so may just turn up as that.
Jon Earnshaw GM4ZFZ
SOTAwatch & SOTA Website
Jon lives with his wife and three daughters in the Scottish Highlands near Fort William and works for a London business necessitating much time on the Caledonian Sleeper service. He's been a keen climber for 20 years and been a radio amateur since his teens.
Rob Harwood, G0HRT
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!
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.
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.
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.
Andy Sinclair MM0FMF
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.