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UK9AAN Times Nostalgia

I’m doing contesting long enough.
My first ham radio Teacher and contesting Mentor is Gennady Shkumat, UA9AB (ex UA9AAP).
My Idols, or in other words, persons to follow, whose mastership I leaned very diligently, were:

Semyon (Sam, Solomon) Edelman, UA9AN, - UK9AAN Trustee and my teacher, in all senses, during my study in Chelyabinsk Polytechnical Institute in 1974 -1979);
Vitaly Mukhortov, UW9AF - the soul of UK9ABA team; he introduced himself on the air as Willy. I was 17 years old then, and tried to look like my Idol, and therefore I chose the same nickname. Vitaly Fyodorovich passed away long ago. Let him rest in peace. Amen;
Igor Deryabin, RA9AEN;
Dick Norton N6AA;
Jim Neiger, N6TJ,
and many others.

In the 70’s, having found these guys on the bands, I could listen their pile-ups tens of minutes, to the prejudice of UK9AAN team result. I know, I was not right. But when you are 17-20 years old, you are driven by emotions, but not by the common sense.

On Monday, at 7 p.m., after each 48-hours CQWW SSB & CW marathon, Sam, UA9AN, used to invite us for lunch in Uralskie Pelmeni restaurant. The lunch consisted of three dishes: Russian salad (Oliv’ye) (sometimes it was Moskovskiy salad), egg soup (perhaps a soup with rolled-in dough-and-meat pie) and of course, 2 serves of pelmeni. Pelmeni were made of deer, or elk, or bear meat; rare they were of pork/beef/lamb. The drinks were kvass with horse radish or with raisins, and after all, sweet course of coffee and Vanna Tallinn liqueur.
Oh, these were the best moments of my life!

As a rule, we were 5-6 persons. The eldest were Sam, UA9AN, and Igor (Jerry), RA9AEN, - they were in their late twenties. Vying with each other, we recalled interesting moments of the last contest, shared impressions, and after everyone was finished with talks, Sam used to tell us about the Grands of international contesting, and about contesting in general. By that time, Sam had a chance to visit a few MM stations in Finland (late 60’s). He paid one extra year of education for that, as he did not pass his exams in time, and he had to take one year study leave involuntary.

Sam was well acquainted with Martti, OH2BH, and Ville, OH2MM (My hat! They are such honored ham operators, and they did not change their long calls to something like 2 or 2!), and many other SRAL grands. Sam was in correspondence with many very big ham radio ‘guvs’ on the other side of Atlantic. Among them were:
Jim Lowson, W2PV – antenna guru, ‘neck and heels’ contestman, the owner of the biggest station on the US Eastern Coast in the 70’s;
Frank Anzalone, W1WY – long-years CQWW Contest Director;
Rush Drake, W7RM – contestman to fingertip, founder of DRAKE Company, which for a few decades was considered to be a quality standard of manufactured ham radio equipment;
Larry Brockman, N6AR - he was CQWW Contest Co-Director, together with Bob Cox, K3EST, after Frank Anzalone passed away;
and other famous persons.

Sam was telling us stories about unbelievable 400+Q/hour rates reached by Dick 9Y4VT (op. N6AA), Jim D44BC (op. N6TJ), or Chip Margelli KG6SW? (op. K7JA), and we were sitting open-mouthed (my apologies to those who listened with their mouths closed), we were holding our breath, being afraid to miss a word, as such plain-speaking and close conversations with our Icon happened only a few times in a year, on Mondays, at 7 p.m., after completion of 48-hours CQWW’s.

During those minutes we discussed contest problems also, - such as our rivals’ two signals at a time; guessed power levels; Callbook write-ups issues (never DQ’ed); how the people work top-band mults they never heard; how the people ‘go’ for a DX-pedition remaining in their long-inhabited winter quarters; about CQWW CC requests (those times a letter from USA reached USSR, at the best, in 3 weeks) for QSO confirmations with one or another station in suspected log, and so on.
In short, these were our breakthrough moments, very much educative, and absolutely informative in the sense of attainment the core of contesting. These were the examples from which we read the matrix of fair contesting attitude, without cheating and thievery.
Up to date, I sense Sam’s leave as mystic! I don’t know, how that happened, but the baton to represent UK9AAN in the air went over to me after Sam left contesting. Though, there were more honorable candidates, like Yuri, RG9A (former UA9AM, UA9ACZ), for example.
Perhaps, that happened because during my first three years in the institute I did not climb up the mountain of knowledge, but was recklessly spending my days in the air from the famous UK9AAN, and, naturally, outside contests, I have met many hams who were then, and nowadays who are the contesting arbiters. There were meetings with Bob, K3EST, also.

Then, in the 70’s, in the times of total lack of the latest news, on-air communications were the most effective news sources, including contest results.

Let me remind you, that due to this, in USA, they spontaneously started to exchange scores right after the contest on 3830 kHz, and, in honor to this, nowadays we have namesake WEB-site 3830.

So, here is the story of relations between Bob and me.
First of all, Bob became my friend after numerous CW QSO’s, when I was directly assisted by the famous English-Russian Dictionary by Vladimir K. Muller. Bob’s patience in deciphering my absolutely wild English (that was during the first two years!) was exemplary. But in exchange, I arranged his schedules with the rarest USSR oblasts, and that in turn cost me numerous restless nights hunting them on the air and from the notes in NLD-articles (short from In Amateur Radio Bands) in Sovetskiy Patriot newspaper, etc.
That was yet fine when Bob operated scheds from very good equipped station of Fred Laun, K3ZO, who was either His Majesty the Agent 007, or his backer-up, and was out for his voyage somewhere in South America, or South-East Asia. Therefore there were no problems to make a QSO.
In short, I’m telling this story to emphasize, that UK9AAN reputation was so high that in 1978 I got my first task from Bob who was CQWW CC Co-Director.
That task was about a well-known and respected ham operator whose score seemed to be doubtful to the CQWW CC.
I did the task, and that score was successfully withdrawn from official scores, at the violator request. And then there were more and more…
Those days, it was the only way for a USSR violator to escape from severe penalty in case of official DQ.
It should seem that everything’s all right! US hams understand our internal situation, and make advances like log withdrawal instead of official DQ.

I must say that logs sent through Box 88 were totally traced, and score withdrawal was punished anyway, as well as for sending directly to the sponsors, bypassing the Box 88; but log withdrawal was punished not that strictly as DQ.

But the time showed that such condonation policy towards violators was incorrect, and today we are faced the situation we have …

Already in those times, I was surprised with such ‘tolerance’ of the Contest Committee, but I was so young and not wise enough to evaluate this as a mistake; I actually reached this ‘wisdom’ a few years ago, after numerous open discussions, in particular, with Al, 4L5A. But that was already late.

Cheating in the USSR countries took roots so deep, that one will need a lot of efforts to ride the animal down into his lair.
And now, here comes the main thing, I let my hair down here for.

73’s & GL, Willy UA9BA

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Rating: 5 of 5
  • Callsign: K8IA (ex-K8HLR)
  • 2017-06-27 04:34:33
Wonderful 70's-80's nostalgia re the UK9AAN guys. When I was in Michigan, we used to gauge propagation by that big signal of theirs. By the way, Rush Drake W7RM had nothing to do with Drake Radio, the R.L.Drake Co. That was owned by Robert L Drake of Ohio, not Rush.
Rating: 5 of 5
  • Callsign: yd3mtd
  • 2010-09-12 17:19:59