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Regarding Iridium

I thought I'd relate these stories about my experience with Iridium.

Through December and January I was traveling in Antarctica.
At one of our base camps we had a daily contact with Rothera 
(a British research base) to obtain weather forecasts.
We primarily used HF radio for those contacts. One day I was
in the radio tent listening to the operator call Rothera. 
For several minutes the operator repeated "Rothera, Rothera, Rothera
this is Patriot Hills over". Each time she listened for a response
you could hear a faint unintelligible crackle from Rothera. This 
went on for about 10 minutes with no conveyance of weather information.
We had 2-3 Iridium phones in the radio tent. After several attempts 
on the HF the Rothera response ceased and about 1 minute later the 
Iridium phones rang. It was Rothera calling, a weather report 
was given and the conversation ended quickly.

While flying by DC3 across Antarctica we often had to land at very
remote areas due to bad weather. When on the ground we often called
to several international base camps for weather forecasts. We routinely
called England and the US for all types of information. Once while 
between fuel stops we needed to know what the allowable ratio of Jet 
fuel to Avgas was for a DC3. We attempted to call a facility in Wisconsin
for this information, it was XMAS eve. All those calls were by Iridium.

On one occasion we were waiting to be picked up by the DC3, it was 
coming from 1200 miles away. We had changed our position since  
our last contact. When the plane arrived it did not see us and flew 
right over and on to our last position, 25miles away. I called 
using the Iridium to the flight follower and they relayed our GPS 
position to the DC3, 15 minutes later the DC3 landed right in front of us.

These are just a few of the stories using the Iridium phone. While the 
debate about the merits and economics of the system rage-on. It has very
quickly become adopted in remote areas and the convenience we found
will surely be missed by many people in these areas.

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