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The early morning hours of April 3rd, 2006 were the beginning of a week of the best tropo I've seen in my three years in Fort Myers. Though my farthest catch that night didn't break my all-time record, April 3rd was notable for how many times Fort Myers' record was broken in a short amount of time. The initial record, WTSP 10 at 124 miles, was a sitting duck for the first serious opening that year; at 12:30 the first logs were recorded and WESH 02 stole the record at 167 miles; then the opening spread to Panama City and, after only a half-hour, WMBB 13 leaped over WESH with it's 338 mile distance; this record would also last 30 minutes, until WFSG 56 nudged the bar up to 360 miles, where it would stay for, again, only thirty minutes until WUPL 54 became my first out-of-state tropo at 552 miles. Fort Myers' tropo record was broken four times in only 90 minutes!
Well, make that five times.
WUPL 54 has held the QTH record since that night in 2006, but there was also a tentative logging of WAPT 16 in Jackson, MS twenty minutes after WUPL. After all was said and done, I reviewed the videotape and noticed a "16" logo popping-up over programming just before I stopped the recording and I didn't remembering noticing the bug at the time (smack self on forehead). It bugged me for a long time and I felt I should count it as an ID, record and all. This being the last season before I bang the gavel and update my statistics for the last time, I decided to go back to the tape and dismiss any reasonable doubt that what I saw was WAPT 16. Sure enough, the logo seemed like the one on the website and there were no other ABC affiliates on channel 16 in the area, not even a translator, so I "retro premiered" it as Tr#47. My QTH tropo record now stands at 642 miles, which is only twelve miles short of my all-time record!
With only a few days left before I pull the plug on monitoring, my reception of WTAT 24 in Patchogue, NY (654 miles) may well stand as my all-time record forever. Even if I did take up digital DXing, distances like that are seldom strong and 8VSB only makes the job of cracking a weak signal harder. Bill Hepburn's tropo maps do predict some last-second trops over the gulf this week, so you never know. A much more recent logging of WCIA 03 (via E-skip) was "retro premiered" after I finally managed to confirm what their off-air "W" bug looks like. Hopefully, I'll be able to seal the logbook with as few tentatives and, worse, unIDs as possible.
LONG LIVE ANALOG!
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