November 4th 2001 brought a really nice six meter opening to Southern California. . . . the kind of opening to Europe a six meter DXer dreams about during the solar cycle minimum. It was Saturday morning in November and the solar flux was averaging 250 or so and at prime time of the second peak of re-born cycle 23 . The solar flux has been steadily climbing for the past several months. Virtually everyone was on the air out here in Southern California and it seemed as though everyone had worked Europe that day. For many it was their first European contact. For many Europeans it was their first California contact so there was great excitement on both ends. European countries worked were France, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man and I probably missed a couple.
With the excitement of that day still fresh in our minds, little did we know we were in for an even better one, November 17, 2001. . . . it was the "Mother of All six meter openings" I heard one fella say! Reports from all over the country seemed to imply the same thing "the best day I've ever seen on six meters". Many of these guys have been on six meters for several decades or more.
The day started out with the usual North East US working Europe and with weak Portugese and Spanish video being heard across North America. Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos started the day off into Southern California. At about 1700Z we were all surprised by CT1DYX CQing and he continued to build in signal strength. It just kept getting better. Several EHs and CTs were all in for almost the next two hours. During that window we got word that a K5 had worked FR1GZ in Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. We had this in the back of our minds already as Reunion had been worked in Phoenix (W7RV) a year earlier and FR5DN heard a W6 two weeks earlier. Several of us went to FR1GZs frequency and amazingly he was there CQing. N6KK, WA6PEV, W6CPL, N6XQ and N6CA all worked Yvon FR1GZ that morning. The average distance for all of us in Southern California was about 11470 miles (18455 km). That kind of contact doesn't happen very often; as a matter of fact it's never happened in Southern California before.
While we were all still yakking about the morning's opening to Europe, Reunion, the Caribbean and Central America the propagation swung around abruptly to KL7 and they were especially strong. This was followed by a very strong Japanese opening. We've seen those before. Hiding amongst the JAs were several Hong Kong stations. Those are rare too; only one on the air all of last cycle. We were alerted that the 9M6US Malaysian station was being worked by the Pacific North West (PMW). He eventually sneaked out of the noise and was worked by several San Francisco stations and by N6KK in Southern California. The rest of us got to sit by and listen until he faded away; at least we heard 9M6. I never liked pileups anyway. . . . especially when there are a thousand other stations.
Still excited by at least hearing 9M6US on six meters we started hearing XV3AA in Vietnam. Many of us went to Vietnam so we know how far away it is, 12600 km, but to work it on six meters?. . . unheard of by anyone over here. I don't think I've ever heard Vietnam even on 40 meter CW. He was worked by quite a few here with signals building up to S7 or 8 at best then faded away like all DX eventually does. A perfect ending to a perfect day on six meters.
It's been a couple of weeks and we are all still cranked up about that day. We've had several more European openings since then and I can't honestly imagine ever having a day like that on six meters again, but we'll be ready just in case it does.
73 Chip N6CA