Celebrating association 101 with special friends on IS0

Shortly after I started with SOTA more than a decade ago, I set as a personal goal activating 100 associations. The project took longer than I expected, in particular due to two years lost due to Covid restrictions and more recently my failing eyesight. But last December, with the help of my daughter Toni, I got association 100 in Japan.(The last I heard from the Management Team, the second most associations by an activator was fewer than 50.)

I had hoped to activate this milestone along with some SOTA friends, but few people could travel to Japan. Instead, I decided to celebrate with association 101 and chose Sardinia IS0. I invited some of my closest SOTA colleagues to join me with a celebratory dinner, and a good number were able to come.

On Saturday April 13 most of us arrived in Olbia on the northern side of the island. We had an informal dinner together and planned a mass joint activation the next day. We had a car caravan to an easy drive-up summit, IS0/IS-303, which had some very nice scenery and views. There is a very large activation zone, and we spread out with multiple stations. I got to test my new Elecraft KH1, which my daughter brought over in her luggage from the US. In fact, because I purchased the rig and all accessories in the US and had it delivered to tax-free New Hampshire, everything cost only CHF 1000, quite a reduction from Swiss dealer prices. We then continued on to another easy summit, IS0/IS-096, which unlike the earlier summit, had almost no scenery, but we got the points.

The activators on the Sardinia SOTA trip, left to right: Hans PB2T, Fritz HB9CYX, Hugo HB9AFH (standing in the back row), Mike NJ0Q, Paul HB9DST (holding the Champagne kindly supplied by the next operator in the dark green shirt), Aca YU1CA.

On Monday we split into smaller teams (less confusion / competition for frequencies on the summits). Several of us went to IS0/IS-266, which involved either a longer hike up a service road, or a shorter but far more difficult hike up the hillside. The views at the top again were spectacular, but it was also interesting that we found a sign marking some microwave experiments conducted by Marconi at this location.

Plaque commemorating Marconi’s first microwave transmission.

On Monday evening, I held a celebratory dinner to thank the SOTA comrades who helped me accomplish my goal. I did have activators from not only HB9 but also The Netherlands (PB2T / K2XYL), Serbia (YU1CA, who not only helped me get Serbia but also Bosnia E7 and Montenegro 4O and even Minnesota, USA (NJ0Q, who did all the driving needed to get my last remaining association in the Lower 48, Iowa W0I, along with central Canada VE3, VE4 and VE5, and finally also Iceland TF).

The celebratory dinner. Clockwise around the table, starting at the far left: Hans PB2T and his XYL Margreet K2XYL, Marlies, the companion of Fritz HB9CYX, Paul HB9DST, Toni Schreier and her fiancee Sam (both of whom did most of the logistics for this trip and meeting), Aca YU1CA, Mike NJ0Q and Harry (an honorary SOTA activator).

Of those, I had to point out special dates with two of the people there. First was April 28, 2012, my very first activation done with the help of Hugo HB9AFH. We were at a contest site, which also happened to be a SOTA summit (HB/AR-006, Sitz – no longer valid). I had a QRP rig, we connected it to the big antenna, and I got my first activation in the log. I was hooked.

As for the second person, on Jan 25, 2014, I began my association gathering in earnest with my first few in the EU. Hans PB2T acted as my tour guide, and I got PA, ON and LX in the log. The chase for associations was now on. Hans and I have a special SOTA relationship beyond our tours; I accompanied him on his maiden activation in October 2012 when he was visiting Switzerland. More recently, he was in part responsible for the Yasme foundation to honor me with their Excellence Award for 2024, in part for my activities in SOTA. The award consists of a crystal globe and a cash grant of $US 500, which I am donating to the SOTA organization because over the years I have gained so much from this group of people.

The Yasme Foundation 2014 Excellence Award given to Paul HB9DST

On Tuesday we continued with activations, some more difficult than we originally expected (there’s often a reason a summit has not been activated before). I returned home on Wednesday, while several others stayed on to the next weekend.

I would like to conclude by paraphrasing my friend Harry, who is not a ham but was helpful in me getting EA3, EA4 and EA5 – and most impressively, Andorra C3. At the dinner, he remarked how he has been extremely impressed by the comraderie and friendship among people who never met in person before, but who are connected by their common hobby, radios in the mountains. People you’ve never met before will give up hours and days of their time to help you out. And in my situation I rely heavily on such assistance, and I too am grateful for everything others have done for me. Without the help of the people who joined me on Sardinia and many others during the years, I would have never reached 101 associations.


Dear Paul,
many congratulations for your fantastic effort! I need at least two lifes for that…
Think you`ve enjoyed life on IS0!

Hope you stay healthy and we can meet again for a HB9 mountain beer :wink:
Vy73 Fritz HB9CSA, DL4FDM


Hello Paul,
Nice to read all those nice moment of Sota life.
I can remember our common activation with You, Emile, Roger and me on the Pic des Mouches (Montagne de la Sainte Victoire) back in March 2018.
Congrats Paul from Gerald F6HBI


Wow!!! 101 Associations. I thought I was doing OK with 27! Brilliant.


1 Like

Dear Paul, It has always been a pleasure to do joint activations with you.
Thanks for inviting us to join the 100+ celebration. We had a great time on Sardinia.
Ham radio is all about international friendship.

73/88 Hans PB2T and Margreet K2XYL


Thank you for inviting me to the party, I am glad to be a little part of your big achievement! I had a great time in Sardinia.

It has been fun activating and learning from you and I look forward to being on a summit with you again!

Congratulations again,

Mike NJ0Q


Hi Paul
Congratulations on your great achievement also from Marlies and myself. Thanks to the invitation to your celebratory party we spent a wonderful week on Sardinia, including some very interesting hikes. Despite the occasionally gale-force winds I managed some additional activations - and could bag another association!
I look forward to our next joint activations.
Fritz HB9CYX


Congratulations on association number 101! I really enjoyed reading your report, which I found most uplifting. Do you have plans for 102?

  1. Matthew M0JSB

Hi Paul,

One more time CHAPEAU BAS :exclamation: :champagne:

Greetings from all of our family :wink:

73, Jarek


Congratulations Paul, 101 is done… Now time to get on and grab a lot more.

I enjoyed reading about your trip and the friendship behind your adventures around the globe.

Take care, cheers
73 Ignacio


Great read, Paul - enjoying here your report of the special event from home! And great that the fellows met you there for team activations and celebrating . . . you, the hero! :slightly_smiling_face: :+1:

73, Markus HB9DIZ


Super, Paul - congratulations!
This is truly an extraordinary achievement!!
vy 73
Fredi,F B9BHU


Congratulations Paul - and thanks for letting us know about your special trip to celebrate the 101st country.
Keep going, all the best!
73 Bruno HB9CBR