ARRL VEC Conducts Remote Exam Session with Applicants in Antarctica
The ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) administered several Amateur Radio examination elements to applicants at Amundsen-South Pole Station in Antarctica — the home of KC4AAA. The examination was administered under new FCC rules which became effective on July 21, permitting VECs to administer Amateur Radio examinations remotely.
“All six candidates earned a new or upgrade license,” said ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM. There were three new Technicians, two upgrades to Amateur Extra, and one candidate who went from unlicensed to Amateur Extra.”
Joe Musachia, W5FJG, served as the volunteer examiner at the South Pole, while Penny Harts, N1NAG, and Rose-Anne Lawrence, KB1DMW, were the VEs at ARRL Headquarters.
“Chet Waggoner and Bartley Davis are the first at the South Pole and possibly on continent to pass the General exam,” Musachia said, naming a couple of the candidates in a posting on the ARRL Facebook page. He said two previous exam sessions were held at the South Pole, but they had to get special permission from the FCC to conduct them.
The logistics were somewhat daunting, since the video link required a satellite connection and clearance from NASA, and it was subject to possible last-minute changes, should the International Space Station require additional Satcom time. Musachia, who is the satellite engineer at the station, said NASA was aware that the VEs had requested a large block of time to perform the exam session, and they did not change it.
Somma said the video exam session went ahead as scheduled on July 22 at 8 AM EDT, which was 8 PM in Antarctica. “The summer day was a pleasant 80° here at Headquarters in Newington, while in Antarctica it was 80 below!” she pointed out.
“All of us here at the South Pole want to extend our thanks to you and the VEC team at the ARRL for making this license exam session happen,” Musachia said in an e-mail to ARRL Headquarters. “We all just finished a bottle of champagne to celebrate the newly licensed and upgraded Amateur Radio operators. We wish you all could have joined us.”