The following story was reproduced with permission of CQ Magazine
The Story of VQ9AA
BY SIR GUS BROWNING*, Ph. D(X), W4BPD
Ole Gus he's been doing just fine,
and this month he's called VQ9. . .
Oh grateful are we, for '4BPD,
for Aldabra we sure stood on line.
If you look at your world atlas, and if it's a good one, you'll observe a small dot a little to the northwest of the island of Madagascar. This is the island of Aldabra. This little spot remained vacant on everyone's country list, for all these years; I always wondered why someone had not operated from there. Well after getting there and experiencing the treacherous trip it is, I can see why it has not been done before and why it will be a long time before it's done again. You'll notice that Aldabra is quite near the Malagasy Republic as well as being quite near the east coast of Africa. It always looked to me like an easy spot to get to-but brother-I have news; it ain't that easy. On this "Round The World" DXpedition, Ack, (manager and "contribution accepter") and I discussed the many places from which I should try to operate. Aldabra was always tops on the list. The first difficult problem to overcome was that of licensing. You may remember that Lee, W0AIW; Mike, W0MAF; Mac, W0UQV, and myself tried a previous unsuccessful try at Aldabra. While we were in the Seychelle Islands during that ill-fated trip I made several friends who came to my aid during time of need and who interceded on my behalf with the Postal Dept. licensing authority. Consequently, through them, a license was promised when I arrived at Aldabra.
Even getting to the Seychelles, from which I planned to reach Aldabra, presented a problem! Every reservation, from every ship leaving Africa was sold out for one full year in advance. It seemed as though all the Indian nations in Africa were going home on a one-way trip. I was forced to book passage on the S.S. Karanja from Bombay, India. This is really getting to the Seychelles via the "long path." Due to last minute delays, strikes, etc., all the radio equipment, which was shipped in January, we found, wouldn't arrive in the Seychelles until some time in June. The Monsoons which sweep down across the Indian Ocean start in late May and blow for nine continuous months with winds frequently as high as 60 m.p.h. In simple words, this means you go to Aldabra before June 1st or you might become a Silent Key. To complicate matters we had to purchase a brand new power plant, and along with other large items of radio gear, air expressed this whole mess from New York City to Bombay! This really flattened the bankroll but it had to be done.
After a very smooth five-day voyage from Bombay, I arrived at Port Victoria. When you see the
Seychelles from a distance you want to start taking pictures. Don't do it though, because after
you land, everywhere you look you see the best picture material ever. Port Victoria is a small
village of about 1,500 to 2,000 population; however, it's the biggest in the Seychelles. I was told that women outnumber the men approximately 9 to 1, so I say, young man, go to the Seychelles.
The islands are a group of mountain peaks emerging from the Indian Ocean. You're at the
mountains and beaches at the same time and you can swim and mountain climb every day of the year.
The natives are all colors, from black to white, mostly somewhere in between and they
*c/o The World Radio Propagation Study Association ' Ack Radio Supply Co., Birmingham 5, Alabama.
The unsuccessful VQ9AIW operation occurred during September, 1959-Ed.
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