Contesting Information

What is it about contesting that challenges the amateur radio community?

Starting in a contest, sitting down in that radio chair and firing up the equipment is like starting an adventurous journey. You travel with the waves that cross the globe – along the ionospheric layers and through the aurora belts You are fighting with all kinds of natural and man made phenomena on the way. Reaching across continents and oceans with power that is comparable to an electric heater, desk lamp or even a flashlight is nothing short of magic.

DXing is like going after a trophy fish, you keep at it until you catch that elusive fish or DX country. Contesting is like a fishing tournament, you go fishing during a specified time period and try catch as many fish (or specific type of fish) during that time period or have contacts on the air instead. Ham radio contesting is a sport. Each contest has its own rules and personality. What they all have in common is a blend of strategy, skill and endurance. But what makes ham radio contesting so unique is that the “pros” play with the “contesting beginners” too. It’s the thrill; the challenge.

Contesting is no different than drag racing from one traffic light to another… except its legal and safer. Human nature is driven by competing. Not only with others but with one’s self. Ham communications is fairly docile, but in a contest, not only do you try to beat your peers, but you compete with your past scores. You alone retain the most satisfaction by beating past scores. And you get bragging rights when you gazump your peers. It’s the nourishment of the best in human nature!

The more who participate, the better the experience for everyone. It’s a great way to discover the true potential of your equipment and your own operating skills. Once the contest is under way we find out how our equipment is performing and how our skills help us battling in the landscape of the ionosphere. Our paths cross with our buddies from the contesting community from all parts of the globe, as well as newcomers and casual participants. We compete against the others and try to improve our scores from previous contests. And the bonus is that we may pick up a few new countries in the process.

Below are some excellent links to Contest Information and software, Compliments of AC6V’s fantastic website.

 Amateur Radio Contesting Resources and Information

Forthcoming contests operations are included in the tables linked-to below. For operations in contests that have already taken place (1996+), use the menu provided under “Operations for Previous Contests“. For operations in the forthcoming smaller contests for which I don’t create dedicated tables and for operations that are not contest oriented, check the Announced DX Operations (ADXO) table.

Operations in Specific Forthcoming Contests



These are Web pages specifically designed for and dedicated to a single contest. Typically, they include more than just an announcment or rule list for a single year (which can almost always be found in the better “Contest Calendars”). These pages may contain (or provide links to) such items as Contest: History; Records; Results; County Names/Abbreviations; Logging Programs, etc. Ideally, they’re a single “point-of entry” from which one can find “everything you ever wanted to know” about a particular contest and are well maintained and up-to-date. Kudos to the pioneers who have created and are maintaining these pages! I believe the Asia-Pacific Sprint offer excellent models for contest Web pages.



73, Lee ZL2AL and the ZM4T Contest Team

Back to top^


When I was a kid I was always mad keen on anything that flew. My Dad owned a bicycle and sporting goods shop near Yorkville in Toronto and sold model aircraft kits and supplies. model aircraft were alsways under construction in my workshop room in the basement of the shop. We lived in the flat behind the shop. Free flight and control line were the two methods of controlling model aircraft at that time. Both were unsatisfactory until radio control came along in the late 1950s. The equipment was expensive, mostly home built and unreliable. By that time I was about to realize my dream of actually flying a real aircraft.

The Aeronca 7ECA Champion
I learned to fly in one of these old tail draggers. It was a great way to learn “seat of the pants” flying. There was a flying school at Markham Airport just outside of Toronto with 3 Aeronca Champs. Learning to fly was easy in 1961 as the cost was $8.00 per hour dual and $5.00 per hour solo instruction. The Chief flying instructor was a huge Polish WW11 flying ace who flew as one of the Polish squadron in England during the Battle of Britain. Janas was an intimidating man over 6 feet tall. One day I saw him walking out to take a young lady for her first flying lesson. He obviously didn’t think much of her when he said in a loud voice with a thick Polish accent “Woman are meant to stay home and have babies – not fly! She was reduced to tears and ran back to the flight office and never returned.

Jan was a highly skilled pilot and a stickler for safety and was constantly making me scan for suitable landing spots if anything went wrong. I went solo after 9 hours. There is nothing as exciting as having your instructor get out of the aircraft at the end of the runway unexpectedly and say “You go solo now. One circuit only and land” The adrenalin was flowing but what an exhilarating feeling sitting on the end of a 3000 foot runway and opening the throttle! I built up my time over the next few months until I sat my final exam and did the flight test. I was finally a pilot. You never realize how inexperienced you are with only 35 hours though!

My Piper J3 Cub CF-NGX
It wasn’t long before I had a chance to buy my own aircraft when a Piper J3 two place tandem aircraft came up for sale. A farmer at Lake Simcoe about 60 miles north of Toronto advertised one for sale for $2,400.00 on a piece of paper on the wall in the flight office. I rang him and agreed to buy it and would have someone drive me to his farm. The plan was to fly it home the following Saturday. The weather was OK when we left Toronto but by the time we got there, had a test flight and was ready to depart, the rain and a line squall with high winds was between me and the airport back at Toronto. I made the foolish decision to go hoping somehow I would fly through the rain and find Markham airfield. I took off and scared the living daylights out of myself on that flight. Visibility was poor and the southerlies were slowing my 80 knots to about 40 knots ground speed. My dead reckoning IFR (I follow railways) got me so lost that I was heading far to the east of Markham. When you are young you are bulletproof and that was the best lesson ever for the hundreds of flying hours that followed. I never wanted to go through that again!

The J3 was a joy to fly. Mine was first registered in the USA with a 65 HP engine by the US Border Patrol until it was crashed sometime in the early 1940s. It went through a number of owners and rebuilds until I bought it with a 75 HP engine installed. It would get off the ground in about 300 feet and land in not much more. One of the joys of flying a Cub is that it has no flaps whatsoever and you have to learn to “sideslip” on to the runway to bleed of speed. Left rudder combined with right ailerons and the aircraft crabs to the left on its way down with a lot of drag. Of course you straighten up the aircraft just before you stall it out onto the runway. Another joy is the side clamshell door. The top half clipped up to the wing and the bottom half folded down vertically so that the whole side was open as you flew around souther Ontario skies in the balmy summer evenings.. It really was grass roots flying at it’s best. It came with a pair of skis for operating from snow covered fields. Thet changed the whole nature of the aircraft as the skis added weight and drag. That, combined with the drag of snow resulted in take-off runs of 1000 feet to get airborne and a slow climbout. Nevertheless, flying during the winter was interesting and a lot of fun. It was also extremely cold as there was no heater!

My Piper J4
I had a great offer for the J3 about a year later and saw a Piper J4 for sale. The only difference was that it was two place side by side and I decided to buy it after a test flight. Bad decision! It had the 65HP engine and because the body was wider, had more drag. In fact it was a pig and I have regretted selling the J3 to this day. I managed to quit the J4 within a few months at the same price. At this point I discovered the Champion Citabria and aerobatics.

Flying the Citabria (Aerobatic spelled backwards)
The Citabria was whole different world of flying. I was OK with loops and ponderous rolls in the J3 Cub which was exhilarating but the Citabria was actually designed for aerobatics. It had a 150HP engine and a shorter wing span along with being able to withstand both positive and negative G-force. Consequently, you could do snap rolls which would almost take your head off as the roll rate was brilliant. Nothing like a Pitts Special but nevertheless a world away from a J3. I just loved the Citabria. Going up for an hour of throwing the aircraft around in the evening southern Ontario skies really put the day to day worries of everything in your life out of your mind. Up at 5,000 feet you really couldn’t get into trouble as letting go of the controls would let the aircraft recover on it’s own and the that’s a good thing as stalling out on the top of a loop resulting in an inverted spin is frightening the first time you do it without an instructor.

Flying the Chipmunk
The Chipmunk was designed by the Canadian de Havilland company for use as a primary trainer in both Canada and the United Kingdom. Slightly over 200 machines were produced in Canada, but over 1,000 were manufactured in Britain. A further 60 Chipmunks were produced in the late 1950s under license in Portugal. Few of these airplanes have made their way into the United States, but of those that have, most have been extensively modified for acrobatic and airshow work. Seating is tandem fashion under a sliding bubble canopy. A 145 hp Gipsy Major four-cylinder engine turns either a fixed-pitch wood propeller or a metal Fairey-Reed airscrew. The fuselage and wings are of all metal construction, but the ailerons, elevators, and rudder are fabric covered.

The Avro “Flying Saucer”

The AVRO “Flying Saucer”

The late 1940s and 1950s were halcyon days for UFO sightings in North America. The Roswell Incident occurred in 1947, heralding the belief that we were being visited – or even stalked – by alien beings. There were 6 “reported” sightings in Ontario alone between 1951 and 1957, many of which were classified as hoaxes. In 1959 a flying saucer actually flew at Malton Airport (Toronto, Canada). It was observed by hundreds of people, photographed extensively and its flight was even captured as a quality movie. Was it a hoax? Nope.

The Malton flying saucer wasn’t from outer space. It was designed and built right there at the A.V.Roe (AVRO) aircraft company.

John FrostIn his research, AVRO’s Chief Designer, John Frost, (pictured at right) had discovered an application of something called the Coanda Effect.

Frost’s application of the Coanda Effect suggested that a powerful ground cushion could be created by a circulating fan and, in conjunction with horizontal engines, could provide the basis for a vehicle that could have both have VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) capabilities and could still operate as an aircraft. AVRO and the Canadian government provided the initial funding for Frost’s work in 1952- 1953. Frost combined his innovative design into a disc shape, a saucer shape, which had been chosen as the most efficient aerodynamic shape and to simplify structural requirements for a circular hovering platform. The flying saucer was officially designated the VZ-9AV but was generally referred to as the “AvroCar”.

By late 1953, the project was costing upwards of $400,000 to the Canadian government and, in their infinite wisdom, they pulled the plug on the project.

Frost, not wanting to give up his ideas turned to the US to fund the development. In 1955, the U.S. Air Force invested some $1.9 million to allow Frost and AVRO, which also sunk $2.5 million of their own money, to continue the work. In 1958 the first prototype was built for wind tunnel testing. In 1959 the second prototype took to the air, with AVRO pilot “Spud” Potoki at the controls, at Malton.

After several additional flights and wind tunnel tests, the U.S. Air Force decided to end its funding of the project in 1961. They stated that their decision was based on the experiences of poor lateral stability with the AvroCar. AVRO knew how to fix the problems but they were strapped for cash. The Diefenbaker Government then killed the Canadian funding on more than just the AvroCar. They had also killed the CF-105, and the AVRO ARROW, a project that resulted in massive losses of money and talent at AVRO.

AVRO scraped up enough cash to redesign the AvroCar with a pair of J-85 turbojets, a larger turborotor, for improved performance, and a wing/tailet configuration that they married to the central disc platform (see image below). These changes seemed to solve the stability problems but it was too late.

On April 30, 1962, the parent company, A. V. Roe Canada, which had been disintegrating since the cancellation of the ARROW, ceased to exist.Avrocar

The two prototype AvroCars still exist. The 1959 model is in an Army Museum in Fort Eustis, Virginia. The other belongs to the National Air and Space Museum, who have it stored in a warehouse in Maryland.
AvroCar Drawings

Authors note: This story tells many tales. It is a tale of stupidity on behalf of our Canadian government in the 1950s. Here was AVRO, a company on the leading edge of pure aviation research, which was developing the rudiments of VTOL. VTOL is the basis of the success of the British Harrier Jet and the new Joint Strike Fighter program in the U.S. Government has place in funding research but government is pressured to demand an immediate Return on Investment (ROI). Pure research does not offer immediate ROI. In fact, some research can fail and offer no ROI.

The Canadian government prefered to fund a new Regional Jet which was a simple line-extension for a Canadian aircraft manufacturer rather than to invest in longer term innovation. I suppose that is what governments do best when they are in power. The look at short term gain to keep the politicians in power rather than long term which offers great rewards but is costly to fund.