Summits on the Air
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Summits On The Air (SOTA) is an amateur radio operating award program. Its aim is to encourage operation from mountainous locations. Licensed amateur radio operators combine mountain climbing with operating their radios from the summits of hills and mountains.
Those who set up a station on a summit are known as activators and those who work, or contact, summit stations are known as chasers. Similarly, there are two types of award that can be received: One for the activator of the summit and one for the chaser (the operator in contact with the summit).
Points are awarded for operating from a summit or for working a station on a summit. The higher the mountain is, the more points the operator receives.
Lists of registered summits
As of July 2015, over 73.500 summits have been registered and been given point values in the SOTA program. These summits are to be found in the following countries or areas:
United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Greece, Hungary, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Sweden, Slovenia, Netherlands, Corsica, Macedonia, Luxembourg, Denmark, Malta, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine, Spain, Sardinia, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Estonia, Lebanon and Serbia.
Various Awards and Certificates are available to record achievements within the SOTA program:
- Certificates are available for gaining 100, 250, 500, 1000 points (Activators and Chasers);
- At 1,000 points Activators achieve Mountain Goat status and Chasers/SWLs are Shack Sloths;
- SOTA Uniques Awards - the SOTA Uniques is a count of the number of different summits in an activator's, chaser's or SWL's record;
- Mountain Explorer Award - the essence of the award is to recognise the activation and qualification of Summits in a number of different associations;
- Mountain Hunter Award - chaser should contact (or hear for the SWL award) at least 2 different summits in each of 5 associations.
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 Newstead, G3CWI, that he put the idea down on paper. They collaborated over a period of nine months to launch the award. Many aspects of the original idea were refined (and often changed completely). One key factor that had to be clarified was the definition of a "summit". This problem was eventually solved when Richard ran across the Marilyns hill list issued by Alan Dawson. This list is based on the concept of Topographic_prominence which gave an objective basis for the SOTA award scheme.
Early drafts of the rules for the award were discussed and dissected on a public internet group. The award was forward-looking in using the internet as a platform and was one of the first amateur radio awards to be entirely online. The success of the award is in no small part due to the work done by Gary Bleads G0HJQ in developing the underlying database. Gary was one of several people who made significant contributions to getting the award started.
The award programme launched on 2 March 2002. England and Wales launched first, soon to be followed by the Isle of Man and Scotland.
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