After my operation from Tarawa (T30GM) and via Fiji I arrived on Tuvalu on September 16. Although the small size of the Bonrikri International Airport on Tarawa was quite an experience, the airport on Funafuti is even smaller and I would consider this the absolute bare minimum space needed to operate an airport. Customs, immigration and luggage collection is all in the same room of just some 25 sqm. After the airplane was parked in front of the arrival hall, we disembarked and followed the usual procedures in a relaxed atmosphere.
However, a custom officer wanted to know what I had in the tall box. Once I mentioned that it was an antenna, he asked for an invoice and started to talk about some sort of import duty. I mentioned that I was going to bring the antenna with me when leaving the country but he was not convinced. He told me to leave the antenna at the airport and come back the next day. I thought that was not a good idea and continued to discuss how to solve the issue. As I had to wait until all departing passenger had boarded the plane, I decided to go the telecom office to collect my license. Perhaps this could help in the discussion with customs.
I met Mr. Anisi Penitusi who is the license issuing officer and with whom I had communicated about the license application. I paid the AUD 50 license fee and got my receipt that also indicated my call sign T2G. The license would be prepared and delivered later in the week. With the receipt in hand, I went back to customs to continue my attempt to get out of customs with my antenna. Finally (after all passengers left the airport) I was allowed to take the antenna with me but had to report at the customs headquarter the next day to talk with "the boss".
After leaving the airport building I found myself alone in the parking lot and had a problem getting a taxi, as there are just only a handful of taxis on the island. After an hour a taxi showed up and was willing to bring me to my guesthouse at Tengako at the northern part of the island, some 15 minutes drive. After arriving at the guesthouse, I started to get things organized. I positioned a table close to the electrical outlet because there were no extension cords available. The table position was in front of the main entrance door which I always had open for some cooling by the sea breeze. With the absence of the sea breeze it was extremely hot and humid. I went back to Fongafale, the area around the airport, to rent a motorbike and buy the necessary food and drinks.
I was immediately concerned about the location as the garden was covered with tall coconut and palm trees which was an undesirable situation for my vertical. Also the backyard of the guesthouse was not suitable. Since I had no other choice, I started to assemble the antenna and mounted this on a iron tube of about 1.5m above the ground at an open spot in between the trees.
Although I worked stations from the US, Japan and Europe, signals were not very strong. The next morning I examined the situation in the backyard which ends at the ocean. It was a sloping area with some sort of small dike at the ocean and with trees on top. This was certainly not the right place for the antenna.
- Funafuti International Airport Funafuti International Airport
- Telecom Office Telecom Office
- Mr. Anisi Penitusi the license issuing officer Mr. Anisi Penitusi the license issuing officer
- The operating position The operating position
- The operating position and bed The operating position and bed