Introduction - a brief history of SOTA

The Summits on the Air amateur radio award programme was the idea of John Linford, G3WGV. Although he had the idea many years ago, it was not until he ran across the European Adventure Radio website run by Richard G3CWI, that he put the idea down on paper. He emailed it to Richard with the a single question "should we try to get this going?". The original idea ran to a few paragraphs on a single side of A4 paper but it took well over 1,000 man-hours of work to turn that idea into a viable award programme. Many people helped along the way, including Matthew M5EVT, Alan M1EYO and Roger MW0IDX. Much of the award was discussed and dissected on the internet before it was launched on 2 March 2002. England and Wales launched first, soon to be followed by Scotland.

Although neither John nor Richard envisaged huge numbers of people participating, the award was designed to be scalable from the outset. A key objective was making the award internet-based, for this an online database was needed. Fortunately, Richard knew Gary Bleads, G0HJQ who just happened to be a professional database designer. John and Gary met up and, after much hard work, SOTA had an "industrial strength" database. Gary assures us that it is sized such that it could deal with all the amateur radio contacts made in the whole World if required!

Simply having an award and a support infrastructure does not ensure success however, and a huge effort was put in to publicise the award. Both John and Richard wrote articles, gave numerous talks to radio clubs, at rallies and exhibitions and ran SOTA stands at various events. Over 1,000 leaflets were given out in the first 18 months of the scheme. But even that was not enough. International publicity was gained by constant news releases to overseas organisations and finally, a keen band of activators made it their business to explain SOTA to everyone they contacted on the air.

Today, SOTA has hundreds of participants in Associations across the World, all sharing the same award ethos and infrastructure.

Note that SOTA is an award programme not a club or society; as such you can't be a "Member" of SOTA but you can certainly be a participant!

Funding and Management Structure

The running of SOTA relies on the good-will and considerable efforts of a small Management Team which operates as a co-operative. The Management Team gives its time freely to allow the award to function efficiently, allowing you to participate and to enjoy a wide range of facilities, all of which have been carefully specified and designed to enhance the award.

There are no charges to participate in SOTA and award certificates are sold "at cost". Funding for running the award (publicity leaflets, web-hosting etc.) comes from the Management Team. Occasionally, SOTA branded goods may be made available which will include a small profit, all of which is ploughed back into running SOTA.

From time-to-time people with particular skills that may be helpful to the further the aims and objectives of the Programme may be co-opted onto the Management Team. Individual Associations have their own Association Managers (see the Associations page) who are responsible for running SOTA in their own country - thanks!