December 24th, 2003, the
TO4E team (Europa 2003) is back to France after a difficult expedition : lack of electric current, passage of a cyclone, lacks of equipment. Nevertheless,
30,000 QSO's had been done by a united and motivated team. Once back at home, we did not take a long time to have a feeling of incompleteness. Other regions remained to be activated and we decided to start again a new challenge:
going to Glorioso !
Once back at work, we were confronted with changes of the members in our team. Indeed, at the time of the first operation on Europa, we had been informed that the access control on these islands could be negotiated with the authorities of the Reunion island under certain conditions. The scarcity of activation from Glorioso was a goal which reinforced us in the idea to never give up to this project.
The main issue is the island access. Even if this one is strictly controlled, it is prohibited and even difficult for a transport aircraft to land on "Grande Glorieuse" and the access by the sea is very hazardous. Only the tactical military planes of Transall type are able to land on such crushed coral runway.
During the negotiations with the civil authorities and military, we were from 2004 to 2006 confronted to several local events which obliged us to postpone the operation. At the end of 2006, we received the first green light but the sanitary situation on the Reunion island forced us to cancel again.
In 2007, an unexpected fact prevented us from working on the subject. Indeed, the sovereignty of the Eparses islands passed under the responsibility of the prefecture of the TAAF (French Antarctic and Sub Antarctic Territories) and we were back at zero. Months passed before the administration took into consideration this zone and more than one year passed before we had an opportunity to present our project via the military authorities of the Reunion island.
Finally, it is in March 2009 that we obtained a discussion with Mr Mouchel-Blaisot, prefect of the TAAF which, before making its decision, wished to meet us. This meeting took place on June 18th, 2009 in Paris and having presented our project, this official gave us his authorization accompanied with restrictions in force on the Eparses islands.
The operation was envisaged in July but was again pushed back following the dramatic crash landing of a plane off the archipelago of the Comoros. Lastly, after a perfect coordination between all the authorities and the invaluable assistance of officers of the armed forces of the southern zone of the Indian Ocean, we obtained our license FT5GA and the authorization to stay during the relief of the military detachment of the Foreign Legion. The duration was thus fixed at about twenty days of operation.
The call given by the administration of the TAAF surprised many people but this change was logical because of the transfer of sovereignty. Thus, not only FR/G became FTxG but also FR/E became FTxE, FR/J became FTxJ and FR/T became FTxT.
A few days before the departure, F5PRU, F4EVR and F5OGL took along 290 kg of material to Roissy airport, leave it in LOGFRET company's care and its representative, Mr. Alain Le Fellic which brought us an invaluable help.
The near total of the material had been lent by our friends of F6KOP which had not raised any question and had spontaneously agreed to lend to us their antennas and their amplifiers in the pure OM spirit. This radically changed from the criticisms, which fused already by making a lawsuit whereas expedition was not even started.
All the transceivers of expedition were personal equipment, no commercial company having answered, even by the negative, to our assistance requests. Only, BATIMA, a store of Strasbourg had answered present. Thank you...
On this subject, much OM questioned us on the fact that the operators took along their personal gear whereas other expeditions get loaned or free equipment. We do not have explanations on this subject even if we were frustrated by the lack of interest of the distributors and manufacturers of equipment for this French expedition on the "most wanted n°4"...
September 11th, the complete composed by F5PRU Yves-Michel, F5LPY Bernard, F4EGS Philippe, F8CRS David and F5IRO Freddy, joined in Roissy airport accompanied by Florence, our journalist to take a plane toward the Réunion island.
arrival, they were awaited by a soldier of "Air base 181" with a vehicle, which led them to their
rooms. The team started immediately to work on the configuration of the computers.
Sunday, September 13th, FR5MV Raymond came to visit the team and brought a vertical antenna which they installed to make some contacts as /FR.
The following day, the team and her equipment embarked on board of the air force Transall accompanied by Mr. Perillo, principal private secretary of the prefect of the TAAF and official of the Eparses islands and the lieutenant-colonel Siozard, chief of the logistic division of the headquarters of the forces of the southern zone of the Indian Ocean. These two people had used of their influence and helped much in the preparation of the expedition. The plane took off at 10:35 to arrive at Dzaoudzi on Mayotte island at 12:30. The team was then accommodated by the captain Carraro, Officer Island of the detachment of Foreign Legion of Mayotte, again an officer who offered us a very invaluable help.
At this time, the team contacted the chief of detachment of "Grande Glorieuse", the chief of detachment Ciniawski with whom they would spend 25 days on the site. This non-commissioned officer of Polish origin will be their chief on the island and they will be made a friend of him during the stay. The complete team was introduced to Mr. Mouchel-Blaisot, prefect of the French Antarctic and Sub Antarctic Territories who authorized the operation.
The arrival on the island took place at 16:27 on September 14th and immediately the operators discharged the material from the plane and made a tour before starting the assembly of the antennas according to the recommendations of the chief. Indeed, they could not put their antennas anywhere...
The following day, the team installed a Spiderbeam 5 bands towards Europe to make a demonstration for the
VIP. This one took place at 11:00 in front of Mr. Mouchel-Blaisot, prefect of the TAAF, Mr. Derache, prefect of Mayotte, lieutenant colonel Shiffer, commander of the detachment of Foreign Legion of Mayotte, the lieutenant colonel Le Guen, captain Carraro and Mr. Perrillo.
After this demonstration, the whole team ceased her emissions for the transfer of instructions meeting of the detachment, in particular about safety regards. From 17:00, the team assembled the V80 antenna and two other complete stations.
Wednesday, September 16th, the team continued to assemble the antennas with some quickly solved problems. A second Spiderbeam was assembled as well as the V40. At 21:08, F5LPY launched the first call on 20 meters CW where as Philippe, F4EGS launched call in RTTY on 30 meters, then on 40 meters without any answer.
During the night, the traffic became intense on 20m CW with Europe then with the USA, on 40m CW, then on 80m CW. The traffic took place with an infernal noise (QRN) and violent gusts of wind outside.
Thursday, September 17th, the traffic continues at an intensive pace. After midday, the team assembles the K9AY of Array solutions.
Friday, September 18th, FT5GA assembles V160. The noise on this band was terrible. The permanent presence of violent lightning storms on the north of the island is certainly the reason.
The following days, the traffic was important rhythmic by the obligatory cuts of the generator and the professional occupations of certain operators. Each cut of traffic is necessary and is not negotiable. Other missions were assigned with the five operators.
Saturday the 26th and Sunday, September 27th, FT5GA took part in the CQ WW DX RTTY.
On Monday, September 28th, the team has the surprise to realize that the 10 meters was open and they hurried to take advantage of this sudden opening.
On Tuesday, September 29th, the whole team celebrates the Saint Gabriel, patron saint of the Signal Corps.
Receiving day after day a state of our traffic and approaching the end of the expedition, the QSO meter was over 40,000 contacts. The fever not ceasing climbing, the bar amongst QSO'S went up a bit.
On Tuesday, October 6th, we started to dismount the K9AY, and in same time we implemented a fourth station which, in the beginning was a spare one. This station functioned only on CW and with a power of 100 W to provide an extra effort for the end of the expedition.
On Wednesday, October 7th, the team dismounts the WARC Spiderbeam and the 5 bands Europe antenna. At 08:35, the last QSO was logged in RTTY with a Japanese station and a short time later V40 was dismounted.
After a summary cleaning of the antennas, the transceivers and the amplifiers were cleaned to remove dust. The following day, the last Spiderbeam was dismounted and the plane arrived at 15:30.
The team leaves the Glorioso on Friday, October 9th at 13:00 to arrive on the Réunion island at 20:09 via Mayotte.
On Tuesday, October 13th , F4EGS leaves the team with the equipment on board a Air Force HERCULES plane to return on Orleans via Djibouti. The team meets Mr. Neau, reporter on the daily newspaper of the Réunion island for an interview.
Lastly, on Thursday, October 15th, the team arrives at Roissy without Florence which returns the following day.
October 20th, F5OGL and F5PRU will seek the material in Orleans to bring it back to Bray sur Seine, F4TTR, president of F6KOP's QTH.
FT5GA was finished at the exact moment when we returned this material to our generous comrades. Yves-Michel and I looked each other while getting into the van and tighten the hand while laughing with also a little emotion.
At this moment, I said myself : what a progress made since 5 years, what a work of patience, what a pride also to have made a success of this expedition far from the standards that we can meet nowadays : 25 operators, 6 stations, thousands of dollars of budget...
What useless chatterings also, what disagreaeble remarks made, or even insults sometimes against this operation or operators. What criticisms without knowing, comparisons with other expeditions, idiots and unjustified reflections.
The five guys who have been there did not disappoint me. They never have been discouraged, never (almost) have been tired. Even if they do not excuse everything, they understand the statement and matter of some.
Whatever the side of the transceiver, for a "most wanted n°4", you have to earn it !. This is not F5CQ Rafik, F6AOJ Jeff or our friend Floyd N5FG who will say the opposite. In the shade, these three guys have worked to obtain this result. Our control stations, which broadcast us their observations and the remarks of those, which wanted to help us, made a remarkable work.
Finally, all this is a large & fragile building but what an adventure !!!
It is necessary for me to also think to all these civils or military authorities for which Hamradio is a strange world populated with strange persons. People who obviously don't understand why we badger them to go there whereas government decisions prohibit it. But, they listened to us, understood and helped us. They already know that the media repercussions that they are in right to expect will be a little things compared to the major contemporary problems but anyway they have been happy to help a handful of DXers which wanted to go on this French piece of land in the Indian Ocean.
Thank those which helped us would be too long and I am too afraid to forget some of them. This is why I prefer to invite you to check our Webpage http://glorieuses2008.free.fr held by our master webmaster Rafik. All our friends soldiers, civil, clubs, commercial, high-ranking authorities or simple executant, they are all there.
What remains after the button off is engaged? A relief that all was fragilely interlinked because this adventure was a huge puzzle which it is necessary to reconstitute.
FT5GA, is over. We are working on something else now.
In this article, there is only one person who I want to thank : it is my collector of stamp, my XYL Caroline. She was always an immense support for me against winds and tides. How much e-mail did she write ? How much time, she encouraged me? I could not say it. I admire it by seeing it opening the QSL requests because never she let me alone in this adventure
Didier F5OGL leader and QSL manager Glorioso 2009 - FT5GA
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