The ARRL VEC conducted its seventh Amateur Radio exam session in Antarctica earlier this month, with everything monitored remotely from ARRL Headquarters via Skype and a satellite connection. The session on August 3 at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station — home to KC4AAA — was the largest of its type that ARRL VEC has conducted, ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said. Twelve examinees took 32 exams.
“The station’s winter population is 46 people,” Somma said. “Since 11 people passed the exam(s) and obtained licenses, this means that we have 12 people on station — including the VE — that will have licenses. That’s more than a quarter of the South Pole station’s population!”
Somma reported that two examinees earned Amateur Extra tickets, while three got their General licenses, and six passed the Technician exam. James Casey, AI4LX, served as the volunteer examiner (VE) at the South Pole, while Somma and Perry Green, WY1O, were the VEs at ARRL Headquarters.
When the session took place, it was noon Eastern Time at ARRL Headquarters but 4 AM the next day at the South Pole.
“That was the best time for them because the time they have is limited by their satellite access,” Somma explained. “Their ‘good’ satellite (i.e., the satellite that will actually have enough bandwidth for Skype) goes down at about 6:30 AM local. So we had to be done with the video session by then.”
In July of 2014, the ARRL VEC proctored the first exam session in Antarctica, taking advantage of the then brand-new FCC rules that permitting VECs to administer Amateur Radio examinations remotely. — Thanks to ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM