POTA (Parks OFF the Air) today


**Make sure to see the NASA flag that Terry N5LOW installed on the tower, click here:  IMG_5147**

Today, our intrepid JSCARC Hams experienced a different version of POTA:  “Parks OFF the Air”, or “Pooped Out Transmission Attempt”.

Little did we know, today April 12, 2023, the park was holding their annual San Jacinto reenactment Celebration of the 186th anniversay of the Battle of San Jacinto, including actors dressed in period garb, cannons, muskets, and shouts of “Remember the Alaamo!”.

This is no place for ham radio with a park filled with police, rangers, and staff… and they let us know that too.

George AD5CQ and David KG5URA, who arrived early,  were the unfortunate recipients of a cold shouldered confrontation with an unfriendly park ranger.  The ranger threw the book at them scolding them about “illegally arriving earlier than park opening”, “using stakes in the ground”, “operating electronic radio equipment in the park”, “no advanced permission to operate from the park”.

It’s more than likely, this big park event was a trigger for the ranger’s unexpected stern attitude, however, it’s a good reminder to proactively inform the park of POTA operations in advance, just to keep the peace. 

So both David and George disassembled their setups, to avoid further conflict.  It was apparent that this park event was going to grow into a monster influx of visitors and more event staff and police.  (when I left, I passed a convoy of incoming police and 2 huge sightseeing buses).

Terry N5LOW, attempted to setup on the north end of the park.  Luckily, he didn’t get such a stark scolding from rangers, but when he approached the planned location, he found the area was heavily populated with popup tents and pre-staged setups, including QRM from a truck happily blaring country music to any other nearby intruders.  Terry then retreated back near David and George’s location, and temporarily cranked up the tower for a training test run.

We all decided to call it a day, knowing that the event would be problemmatic, and likely more confrontations with the park ranger. 

Special shout out to Terry, who went the extra mile to transport the trailered crankup tower from the shack. Terry did fly a NASA flag ontop of the partially deployed tower, and he also mounted a 20m end fed via a newly installed pulley at the apex.  But because of the issues with the ranger, nothing was activated.  BTW, the NASA flag really was eye catching, and it attracted a few folks to come by and inquire what was going on. 

Terry shared his scary mishap, when the trailer detacted from his truck as he crossed the nearby railroad tracks.  Luckily the safety chain kept the trailer from detaching.  But most importantly, Terry’s quick thinking not to depress the brakes avoided having the trailer freely crash into the back of his truck.  The cranked down tower was positioned such that it effectively was a large heavy spear that could have pierced through the back of his cab space if the truck brakes been slammed on- so today was blessed one- a close call and a incident avoided.

Beside for our Pooped Out Transmission Attemp (POTA), it was a gorgeous day and perfect for a celebration of the 186th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto!

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