Some Tense Moments on 1540A

I summitted 1540A (W4K/EC-176) last weekend. We were on the way to a family gathering in Eastern Kentucky and 1540A was a perfect choice for a quick activation as the AZ is located off a paved road near a popular trailhead used for mountain biking with plenty of parking nearby. The weather was also great, but a storm was blowing in out of the West so I wanted to be efficient as possible.

The activation was going fantastic and I had the contacts I needed pretty quickly, then suddenly about 3/4 of the way through my work I heard what sounded like a go-cart engine being throttled to the max, then it sputtered and died. I believe this summit has been altered by mining operations and there are a few residences and businesses near the AZ, so I figured it must be someone quickly mowing their lawn before the storm blew in.

I finished the activation a few minutes later and after my rig was turned off I heard the engine throttle scream again and more sputtering. I thought to myself some poor fellow’s mower is really giving him trouble before this storm hits. A few moments later while I removed the 20m end fed antenna from my push up mast, I heard it again and then noticed a small single engine plane in the Eastern sky going straight up. It climbed up and up for what seemed like forever, until it stalled out, then it began to spiral down to Earth wildly out of control. I feared the worst.

My wife and son were nearby at the car and I called them to look but it had dropped below the tree line. I listened hard for a crash, or thud, or explosion, or something thinking to myself what details I could describe to a 911 operator that I had just seen a plane crash. By the time I got over to the family and pointed to the location in the sky, then we all heard it again and it went back up, stalled out and spun to the ground out of control. At this point, we realized this was probably a training exercise.

I checked my cell phone map and sure enough the Big Sandy airport is just East of the summit so we were all very relieved. It was a good thing because the plane went back up several other times and it seemed to be a more violent decent on each run. At the end of the day, all ended up OK, it was a great activation and we have another new interesting experience whilst SOTA’ing.


Bob - W4BTH


I only just found this.

I wondered how that story was going to end Bob! A good tale with a happy ending. :blush:

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Hi Fraser, Thanks yes it was a big surprise. I may have seen that flight training maneuver on television once, but never live in person prior to that. It was alarming until we saw them come back up and do it the second time. I worked W4K/EC-176 again this year and no excitement except for a good activation followed by a tasty lunch at the Prestonsburg Dairy Cheer! 73, Bob


I did this during flying training here in the UK - you stall the aircraft, let a wing drop, then you are in a slow 60 degree spin until you gain enough airspeed and ‘do the right thing’ with the controls to counteract the spin and level out.

I didn’t find it scary, but then my instructor was a very confident ex-Concorde pilot (who delivered seaplanes in his retirement). His tales of flying out to JFK to pick up a Concorde to fly visitors into and out of Oshkosh was quite staggering.

Different times…



Osh Kosh?

Ahh, that would be Oshkosh where the biggest flying display in the USA takes place. It is not a kind of truncheon that one might encounter in some backstreet of Glasgow.


My bad. It was late.


I hadn’t heard of this place or airshow. Osh Kosh in my vocabulary means this:


Great story. I was expecting that you almost got run over by a motorcycle or 4x4 :wink: Glad it worked out. I’m sure you’ll remember that activation.

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Great story. I too initially had it in my mind that you were so focused on the activation that you had mistakenly blocked an ATV trail and someone was revving their engine wanting you to move. The actual story was much more interesting :slightly_smiling_face:

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