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100 Years of Amateur Radio Transatlantic Communications

Transatlantic_tests_Jan_1922_QST_Cover_3.jpgWatch this page for special events and information celebrating the achievement of transatlantic communications by radio amateurs one hundred years ago. The early 1920s saw the dawn of international Amateur Radio.

[Photo: cover of January 1922 QST magazine.]

ARRL, RSGB Joint Events to Celebrate Centenary of Ham Radio Transatlantic Success

ARRL and the Radio Society of Great Britain will jointly sponsor events to celebrate the achievement of transatlantic communications by radio amateurs 100 years ago.

In December 1921, ARRL sent Paul F. Godley, 2ZE, as its representative to listen for amateur signals from North America during the Second Transatlantic Tests. Setting up his listening station in Ardrossan, on the west coast of Scotland, Godley received the signals of more than 2 dozen US amateur radio stations, the first on December 12 (UTC) from 1BCG in Connecticut, operated by members of the Radio Club of America. The message read: “Nr 1 NY ck 12 to Paul Godley, Ardrossan, Scotland. Hearty Congratulations. (Signed) Burghard Inman Grinan Armstrong Amy Cronkhite.”

These successful transatlantic tests and the ones that followed would spur technological advances and new global wireless distance records. Several amateur radio operating events this year and next will commemorate the centenary of these significant milestones that heralded the dawn of two-way international amateur radio communication.

160-Meter Transatlantic Centenary QSO Party
0200 to 0800 UTC on December 12, 2021


ARRL and RSGB will activate special event stations for 6 hours (0200 – 0800 UTC) on December 12 for the 160-Meter Transatlantic Centenary QSO Party. The RSGB will activate GB2ZE from Scotland, with a team of stations from the GMDX Group sharing operating duties. ARRL will activate W1AW. The stations will operate only on CW. If transatlantic propagation holds up, the stations may continue to operate beyond 0800 UTC.

The GMDX Group of Scotland will award a quaicha traditional Scottish drinking cup representing friendship — to the first stations in North America and the UK to complete contacts with both W1AW and GB2ZE during the QSO Party. A commemorative certificate will be available for download.

Transatlantic Centenary Marathon
December 2022

The RSGB and ARRL are also organizing an international amateur radio marathon on the HF bands to commemorate transatlantic tests held between 1921 and 1923. The
Transatlantic Centenary Marathon will take place in December 2022. The objective will be to mark these historic events by encouraging all radio amateurs to get on the air. Event details are pending.

ARRL and RSGB have assembled a list of stations and groups that are also organizing events and activities to celebrate 100 years of amateur radio transatlantic communication. For more information, visit arrl.org/transatlantic and rsgb.org/transatlantic-tests. The sites also include links to many previously published articles and presentations covering the historic tests.

Events and Activities

Nov. 13-14, 2021 Transatlantic QSO Party, sponsored by the Radio Club of America (RCA), and commemorating the contribution of RCA members who constructed and operated the 1BCG transmitter site in Greenwich, Connecticut, that sent the first message received by Paul Godley, 2ZE, in Scotland.
Dec. 1-26, 2021 Special Event GB1002ZE. The Crocodile Rock Amateur Group (CRAG) based near Ardrossan, Scotland, will activate the special event station GB1002ZE to commemorate the successful reception of amateur transatlantic signals by Paul Godley, 2ZE, in 1921.
Dec. 3-5, 2021 2021 ARRL 160-Meter Contest. This 42-hour CW-only annual contest is most similar to the original Transatlantic Tests of the early 1920s. The RSGB is planning to activate special call signs to commemorate the Transatlantic Tests.
Dec. 11, 2021 to
Dec. 31, 2022

W1AW Commemorative Transatlantic QSL Card, sponsored by ARRL. US stations working W1AW, the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station, may QSL with a SASE; international stations should QSL via the Bureau. See details.

December 12, 2021 160-Meter Transatlantic Centenary QSO Party (six hours; 0200 – 0800 UTC), organized by ARRL and RSGB. The RSGB will activate GB2ZE from Scotland, with a team of stations from the GMDX Group sharing operating duties. ARRL will activate W1AW. The stations will operate only on CW. If transatlantic propagation holds up, the stations may continue to operate beyond 0800 UTC. The GMDX Group of Scotland will award a quaicha traditional Scottish drinking cup representing friendship — to the first stations in North America and the UK to complete contacts with both W1AW and GB2ZE during the QSO Party. A commemorative certificate will be available for download.
December 2022 Transatlantic Centenary Marathon, organized by ARRL and RSGB. Event details are pending.

Articles and Stories

QST

"The Story of the Transatlantics" - QST, February 1922

"The Transatlantic Tests" - by Michael Marinaro, WN1M (SK), QST, May 2014

ARRL News Archive

"ARRL, RSGB Announce Joint Events to Celebrate Centenary of Ham Radio Transatlantic Success" - ARRL News, September 23, 2021.

"Transatlantic Tests Mark 99th Anniversary" - ARRL News, December 9, 2020

"Transatlantic Reception Anniversary Special Event Set for December 11" - ARRL News, December 7, 2016

Other Sources

"The first Top Band DX Contest – the 1921 Transatlantic Test" - by Frank Donovan, W3LPL, slides (PDF) from his presentation at the 2012 Top Band Dinner