The Magic Band opened for several hours yesterday causing a feeding frenzy on FT8. I got in on some of that but was even happier when I noticed someone calling CQ on CW that turned out to be W3EP.
Emil Pocock wrote the “World Above 50 MHz” column in QST from 1992 until 2002. He was operating from his home QTH in FN31. When I first began calling him he was a weak S1 or S2 but once he detected my peanut whistle and spun his beam in my direction, he popped up to above S8 and we made an easy contact.
Operating on the margin between HF and VHF is what makes 6M so interesting. Openings are rare and silence reigns until suddenly there’s a brief opening and bedlam ensues as operators know this won’t last for long. The thrill of making contacts on what seems a perpetually dead band is what makes the “magic”.
As we approach the solstices (June and December) Sporadic-E provides the propagation for this band every year without regard for the solar cycle.
Sporadic-E was first discovered by hams almost 90 years ago when the old 5-meter band (56 MHz) produced contacts covering “impossible” distances. The “E-skip season” runs from May to July, with another, shorter, peak in December and early January.
Oddly enough, I learned that from the writings of Emil Pocock, W3EP.