Bhutan A52JS 2000

When Jim, VK9NS operated from The Kingdom of Bhutan in 1990, amateur radio had been silent from there for over eight years. It was this fact which had made Jim make enquiries, and after many telephone calls and letters to and from, he had been invited to visit Bhutan. Once there, Jim obtained permission to operate amateur radio and was on the air from 22 March to 10 April as A51JS.

As the country had no legislation in place to accommodate amateur radio, it became imperative to try and help the authorities to write the appropriate legislation which would eventually allow the hobby there on the same lines as we enjoy in other countries. This issue should prove to be the most lengthy and expensive project H.I.DX.A. had undertaken since Heard Island in 1983 and would involve some eleven years of work.

Jim always met with friendly co-operation from the Wireless Division of P.& T. But amateur radio was not on top of their priorities while the country was engaged in organizing a complete communications programme. They also needed assistance with the actual formulation of the legislation pertaining to amateur radio and it was here that Jim was involved over the many years, having had much experience in the field. During this time, H.I.DX.A., during a visit in 1991, donated a complete amateur radio station with antennas to be kept in readiness for a Bhutanese Amateur Radio Club station to be established.

Also waiting 'in the wings' was Yonten who had been active in the past as A51TY and was eager to get back on the air. It was always the aim of H.I.DX.A. to have Bhutanese nationals on the air first and foremost, operating under legal guidelines as approved by the relevant authorities. There was an attempt by a Japanese operator to bypass such legislation and he actually operated for a while but was later found not to be properly licensed in his own country. However, things were falling into place and finally, in March 2000, the Bhutan Telecommunications Act 2000 became law, permitting amateur radio for Bhutanese and foreigners alike.

Jim, who had been invited to Bhutan immediately, was issued the call A52JS on arrival. The A52 series was to apply to foreigners while Yonten, being a Bhutanese national retained his old call of A51TY - A51 signifying a national. And so it was that after many trials and tribulations, Yonten now opened up amateur radio from Bhutan with his own call, followed immediately by Jim as the first foreign licensee under the new legislation. This was then followed a few days later by A52AA - a multi-multi DXpedition.