January 14 - "John, we're ready to go on the air... Yep. Nothing to add. We're ready with four stations. We'll try to get two more ready later today."
Most of the team gathered in OP-1. Its 12x12 ft area was roomy and warm. Ralph dialed the FT1000MP to 14.195 MHz and tuned up the Alpha.
"ON4UN. ON4UN. ON4UN. This is VKØIR. John, are you there?"
"Roger. Roger. Roger. Five-nine. Five-nine. ON4UN."
There was a triumphant yell in OP-1, and I suspect in shacks across the world. Already numerous hams were calling. We knew that they had been lying in wait. In Belgium, John posted the message to the Heard reflector:
F L A S H. VKØIR STARTED ITS RADIO OPERATIONS AT 06:54 GMT ON TUESDAY JAN 14TH. GO AND GET THEM FELLAS!
January 26 - Around nine-o'clock, I felt the urge to capture my feelings. I went to my laptop and sat down. For ten, perhaps fifteen, minutes I wandered mentally through the day, across the past two weeks, stopping to think about the village and the 20 men living here, about the technical effort and the goal, about the thousands of radio amateurs that were sharing this adventure, about my old friend Elleo, about the fact that I was the Visitor. I cast a few words, then erased them and cast some more. Then I cleared my screen, opened a new file, and began writing:
"My address at this moment is #1 Heard Island. Around me are three men, each silently exchanging a series of electromagnetic pulses with another human more than 5000 miles away. To all outward appearances, nothing is happening. The elephant seals and penguins in the nearby mossy hummocks are unaffected.The albatrosses and skuas continue their bobbing and casual foraging. In the distance, a volcano vents steam, and the wind pounds in violent gusts. Heard Island continues as it always has, unaware that at this moment on this spot, a world record is being set. As I write these words, we are logging our 80,000th radio contact, more than any other amateur radio operation has ever logged."
January 29 - Suddenly the helo was there, and at 10:28 in the morning, we stepped off Heard Island for the last time. Within seconds we rose, tipped slightly, and wheeled around, flying away from the ship. Tonton wanted to give us a treat, and we raced in the direction of Big Ben. Skimming fifty feet above the glaciers, we looked down at an ever-changing pattern of fractures: diamonds, rectangles, triangles, lines, crisscross. Some areas were flat on top, others jagged. The ice here was clear and clean, there it was dirty with the load of glacial till. Prisms, wedges, blocks...repeated hundreds, thousands of times in a white-gray-blue tessellation that evolved in front of our eyes like a gigantic kaleidoscope. Above us, enveloped in clouds, was the hot crest of Big Ben, the master of all this magnificence.
Those minutes were among the most magical of my life, an encounter with a world of exquisite beauty and awesome power. The sheer size of the glaciers made me feel tiny and inconsequential. I secretly hoped we would fly completely around the island, but at last we reversed, and headed back, along the beach, across the nullarbor, to the ANARE ruins. We made two complete turns around the rocky slope, looking with wonder at the bleakness that had been our home. Then, pausing for only a moment for a last look at the face of another world, we gunned the engine and roared across the place that had been VKØIR, clinching our fists and screaming with the thrill of victory.