ZA1B 2003 – The mysterious Albania revisited
I recieved an email from Martti OH2BH with a request that I should join him to Albania in march/may 2003. I managed to get some vaccaton and called Martti up and said, I'm coming! I were on the way to Albania that mysterious DXCC entity.
I was picked up by Martti on thursday at the Helsinki-Vantaa Int. Airport. We drove back to Marttis Helsinki home to repack some equipment. I arrived with an empty case. The next morning we drove back to the airport and met up with another seasoned teammate, Pertti OH2PM. Pertti normally a very busy guy was no longer busy recently getting of to his pemanent vaccation (ret.). So Pertti had lot's of time to enjoy the hobby. We handled a few overweight issues and we were of to the waiting hall of the airport.
Now we would travel to Budapest in Hungary and swich plane for a small hop down to Tirana the capital of Albania. The trip went very smoothly all the way. In Tirana we were met by Geni Mema ZA1B our host that would help us during our stay. Geni had arranged for two cars to pick us up and drive us to our QTH the port city of Durres on the coast of the Adriatic sea. Geni showed us great hospitality and we discussed our two week stay with him, we would have serious business to come in Tirana so he would be the person to show us around.
The rest of the day were spent in relaxation mode, we arrived from a very cold and freezing Scandinavia to the beutiful spring weather in southern Europe. We were actually blessed with 25 degrees and sunshine the whole two weeks we stayed. Martti and Pertti had visited Albania a few months earlier working the CQ WW DX contest so they had left 10 m long fishing poles behind, and that same evening I mounted a 40 m dipole together with Pertti. SWR was tuned to minimum and we were on air! Somewhat tired after the long day the rig was shut down just after a few hours and we were exited for the next day.
The next day was spent putting up a 6 element tribander and strunging up more dipole antennas, boy I guess those people working in the hotel was wondering what the heck we were up to. Nobody at the hotel spoke english, none of us spoke albanian so when we needed to get hold of a larger wrench it took quite some time before the mechanic at the hotel understood. Everything was working great, we had two stations running all the time, handing out the still rare ZA prefix to the world, very litte QRM between the stations even as the antennas were as close as they were.
We operated a few days in this mode, I especially enjoyed the pileups on 10MHz CW and 14MHz SSB, the bands were in top condition and I remember one night when over 700 NA calls got into the log in a very short time. Our transmitting equipment consisted of one FT1000MP , and a FT897. The FT897 was first used by Martti and Pertti during their AH3D Johnston Island expedition a few months earlier with great sucess. Later on OH2TA brought another FT1000MP.
We had further plans with our trip, to start a programme in Albania to devlop Amateurradio. We had several meetings with the PTT, Telecommunications ministry and Polytechnical university of Tirana. At a great sucess, this was the start of Project Goodwill Albania 2003, which you can read more about here www.za1a.com .
We had a great trip, we were also joined by Pekka OH2TA the last weekend to really BOOST a small multi expedition running 3 stations at a time.
73s de Teemu ZA/SMØWKA