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Mason P. Southworth, ex-W1VLH, SK; Headed ARRL IGY Propagation Project


Former ARRL staffer Mason Southworth, ex-W1VLH, of Montara, California, died August 28 from complications related to a traumatic brain injury 2 years ago. He was 81. A graduate of Trinity College in Hartford and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he began work in 1956 at ARRL Headquarters, where he met his wife, Freddie.

While at ARRL, he was chosen to head the ARRL International Geophysical Year (IGY) Propagation Research Project (PRP). Conducted under a US Air Force contract, the PRP enlisted 600 Amateur Radio operators from around the world to help improve the understanding of VHF propagation. Data from the experiment, sorted and recorded on 300,000 computer punch cards, provided a global footprint of VHF propagation phenomena.

Southworth subsequently directed a PRP follow-on project under O.G. Villard, W6QYT, at Stanford University, researching transequatorial scatter propagation. He later returned to the East Coast to join IBM, where he spent 25 years and became known for his ability to make complex technological concepts accessible to non-scientists.

During his League tenure, Southworth authored numerous articles on the PRP as well as on VHF-related topics, including construction projects.



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