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The Friendship Force (headquarters in Atlanta) is an organization which provides home stay exchange programs with foreign countries. Our Trip left Atlanta (Gateway) on May 16th and returned May 28th,2001. The following is the story of eighteen brave travellers, eleven of which were radio amateurs searching for friendship and the ultimate radio DX adventure around the world. We start our adventure in Russia.

MAY 17, Thursday - We arrived in Frankfort with Lufthansa pilots on strike. This required catching a plane to Warsaw, Poland and then flying LOT air to Moscow (24 hours, no sleep, no luggage) and were met by Oksana and Natalia Guskova after 4 hours with customs. The intrepid Bob Garcia, KD4JRT was grilled for an hour by the airport police. After joining our Russian hosts at the Friendship House we were welcomed to their homes and got 3 hours sleep before beginning our adventures.

MAY 18, Friday - We boarded on a tour bus and began the two hour ride to Sergei Posad, the Religious center of the Russian Orthodox Church. Fantastic architecture within the walled city which was used by the tsars for the past several hundred years. a monumental and historic site in Russia. A large flea-market existed outside the compound with all of us becoming aquainted with the ruble and bartering.

MAY 19, Saturday - Today we travelled by tour bus around Moscow with major stops at the Novodevichy convent and the Victory memorial on Poklonnaya Gora. Several other stops to buy vodka and souvenirs.

MAY 20, Sunday - Tour Bus visit to Zelenograd with tour around the town and visit to the museum. Then to visit the Russian Contest station of RL3A. The largest antenna farm in the world. A six element Quad on 20, 15, and 10 mtrs. A four element Quad on 40 meters and a two element Quad on 80 meters. Several of us worked some EU/AS/AF stations on SSB and CW. Bare-foot W4xxx/UA3 calls created a pile-up from over 100 countries in about 30 seconds. Robert Harris, KF4OEG kept hogging the mike and Harvey Solomon, KQ0A kept hogging the paddles.

We then headed off to the Dacha of Andy Chesnokov, UA3AB for a BBQ and hoe-down. Fedor, RZ3DA entertained us on the guitar while singing Russian Ballads. Read about Fedor's amazing travels. Andy and Elena, his wife are the most gracious hosts one could imagine and the meal was superb.
Radios: FT1000D, FT1000MP, FT890. Amps: ACOM2000, Alpha87A and 78.
Tower 1: MAG810@20mtrs, EF1217@23mtrs.
Tower 2: MAG620@26mtrs, MAG615@29mtrs.
80mtr Delta Loop@25mtrs, 160mtr Inv Vee@25mtrs.
Andy is a world class DXer on the Honor Roll. He also has DXCC on 160 meters and 5BDXCC. The non-hams present couldn't understand why the hams kept looking up in the air. Also, Andy was just elected Vice President of the Soyuz Radiolyubitelei Rossii [SRR] ,Russian Amateur Radio Union (The Russian ARRL)..

May 21, Monday - We all met at the Kremlin Kutafia Tower and toured it's territory, museums and armoury. Several did some more vodka and souvenir shopping. That evening we dressed up and went to the Bolshoi Theatre to see the ballet of Zhizel poem. It was my duty to keep everyone awake. Our sleep deprivation was only about 10 hours at this point..

May 22, Tuesday - We visited the Tretiakov art gallery, the greatest collection of Russian Art in the World. That afternoon Alex Zaitzev, RW3DZ invited several of us to a meeting at his Space institute for a discussion of IRLP. Charles Golsen, N4TZM gave a presentation on the Atlanta Radio Clubs Internet Repeater Linking Project. Pick up your 2-mtr handie-talkie and access the Moscow or Troitsk Repeater in Russia. Go to http://www.irlp.net for details.

May 23, Wednesday - In the afternoon we all arrived at the Moscow Friendship Force House (doma droozhbe) for a farewell party. We were entertained by Moscow's finest musicians and talents. Guy W4GBU, Walter WB4PQQ, Bev K4AYO, and Robert KF4OEG were interviewed and recorded by a Russian European Radio Station for broadcast throughout Europe and Russia. This was to be a 30 minute program.

May 24, Thursday - We shopped for more vodka and souvenirs then arrived at the Leningradsky railroad station to board train #4, car #9 to Saint Petersburg. The name of the train was "RED ARROW". We settled into sleeper cars for the overnight eight hour trip. It was the quietest smoothest train I've been on.

May 25, Friday - We arrived in the morning and checked into the MOSKVA hotel and then went to a super brunch. We boarded a tour bus to see Peter's fortress and St. Isaak's Cathedral. Ate lunch at the "bread and salt" restaurant. That evening we went the circus (fantastic).

May 26, Saturday - We visited the Hermitage. The largest collection of art in the world. All the great masters were on display here. It is impossible to see it all. If you stood in front of each exhibit for 30 seconds and moved to next for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, it would take you 6 years to see everything. We departed by bus to Petrodvorets, Peter the Great's palace and fountains.

May 27, Sunday - We departed to Pushkin town and took a long leisurely boat trip up the Neva River. Afterwards we went to the Palace of Catherine the Great's Palace for a long tour. Afterwards we went to the airport for a flight to Frankfort.

May 28, Monday - After an overnight stay in Frankfort we headed back to Hotlanta.


This experience was 18 months in the making. We are currently talking about another Ham adventure to either Irkutsk, Siberia - Vienna, Austria - Cornwall, England - Saporo, Japan - Wolfsburg, Germany and many others of the 350 Friendship Force Clubs in 58 countries worldwide.

Here is a picture of most everyone