ALWAYS be super careful …

Well known contester and “antenna tower farmer” WØAIH fell 60 feet while working on his 200 foot tower.  Here are the details we know so far, from his son-in-law …

Paul was working on the 15M tower, the 4/4/4/4 this afternoon. His apparent plan was to straighten a bent element and check on a rotor or two that were having problems. (This 15M tower is 200′ tall, with separate Ham-M’s at each antenna starting at 50′.)

I don’t know that Paul had been working on this tower recently, but he apparently had a line to the top and a pulley up there. His usual practice would be to keep a 1/4″ poly rope up to the top and back if he was going to work on a tower intermittently. Then, when ready to work on it, he would use that small rope to pull his good rope up and back down, which is what he did today. For a couple decades Paul has liked to “ride the rope” up and down, climbing the tower only when necessary, or when a winch operator wasn’t available. Today a friend was running the winch, not Mary. Paul had done some work probably at the 50′ level and was at about 60′ when the winch operator said the line went slack. The pulley had become disconnected from the top of the tower.

As I said, I don’t think Paul had been on this tower recently, and he didn’t remember that this pulley was not properly attached for work. Normally, a web “choker” would go through the ring on the top of the pulley, around a tower leg a couple times, and then its ends joined with a heavy shackle. Today, only a nylon rope held the pulley, and it broke. KB9S said it looked weathered. It had probably been up there quite a while, and Paul’s memory hasn’t been what it used to be. He was not up to the top of the tower today at all, only working near the bottom antenna.

It sounds like the kind of small rope he might use on his belt to initially carry the pully and line up to the top of the tower. Why he left it there without a proper choker will be a mystery. I’m guessing it was many months ago, planning to do this work, but something took him away and he never got back to it until now. I am sorry that the winch operator had to see it, but glad that it was nothing within his control.

I stopped by the Farm Monday on my way home from Chicago. We talked about CQWW Phone, and Paul said he operated more phone this time than ever before. He was most excited that he worked a TF friend just before the end on 160M. That really made a great end to the weekend. He did tell me, “maybe next year will be the last year for the multiop. It’s just getting to be too much work to get ready.” That surprised me, as he has said that he thought he had another 10 years left in him. It’s a shame it got cut short.

No word on arrangements. My wife, Paul’s youngest daughter, just arrived in 5H-land yesterday, and I am still waiting to get through to her. I’ll let you know.

73 Paul W0UC

 

Article on the ARRL website at

http://www.arrl.org/news/well-known-contester-antenna-farmer-paul-bittner-w0aih-sk

 

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