Today I encountered one of the worst cases of bad Amateur Radio practice that I've ever seen.
As you may know, today, July 4, 2006 was a very important day for our manned space program. The Space Shuttle has not
been launched in about a year, and my family and I were looking forward to hearing the shuttle audio transmissions as retransmitted
by the Goddard Amateur Radio Club - http://garc.gsfc.nasa.gov/
I tuned in to one of the published frequencies (14.295 MHz) at approximately 1:15 pm Central time, shortly before the
launch was to take place. Two amateurs were rag-chewing on frequency, and periodically made comments about some
perceived QRM (Goddard ARC).
About 5 minutes before launch, I broke in and asked if they would please QSY off the published shuttle audio frequency,
and one operator (N1CH) replied that "I might let them hear some of the broadcast" and "We were on this frequency first".
Unfortunately, I did not have recording equipment available. I hope that someone else did.
While N1CH may have had the frequency first, no-one owns an Amateur frequency. Our ham licenses entitle us to a great privilege, but
along with the license comes a great responsibility to be a courteous operator. I tuned around 20 meters and heard scant activity, so it
would not have been a problem for them to QSY.
The Goddard transmitter, however, may well be rockbound and therefore not frequency agile.
Bottom line, I believe that N1CH acted in a way unbecoming an Amateur Radio Operator. The Goddard ARC club has provided the shuttle downlink audio for 22 years
on publicly published frequencies. These shuttle launches are not a daily occurrance by any means, but I gathered by the attitudes from the operators that this was not the first time they'd had a 'run-in' with the Goddard ARC.
I hate to think of what an SWL or perspective ham might have thought hearing the incident today. This was childish CB-type activity from an obnoxious,
arrogant person who somehow managed to get an Extra class license.
Amsat # 35249
VUCC Satellite # 150