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Steve and Gail Lawman (Vortex Antenna Systems) – Qantas Flight QF2
London Heathrow – Singapore – Sydney – Nov 20th 2019

I’ve now had the pleasure to fly to Australia 24 times since the late 1970’s. I’ve always had an interest in aviation and during this 40-year period I’ve flown on a multitude of different aircraft from Tri-Star’s to DC10’s to 747-400’s and four times now on the new Airbus A380-800 series.

Back in 1985 I had an invitation to be on the flight deck on a Boeing 747-400 landing in Singapore in some pretty bumpy evening weather. It was in the days well before mobile phones and compact cameras so unfortunately, I have no hard copy memories. I even managed upgrades to business class three times but I’m still working on how to get a first-class upgrade 😊.

So we fast forward and this last visit in 2019 and I was ecstatic to find that our Captain on Qantas flight QF2 from London Heathrow to Singapore Changi on Weds November 20th 2019 was
Captain Richard de Crespigny.

Capt. de Crespigny was instrumental (together modestly as he points out) that he and the crew successfully managed to land a very crippled Qantas Airbus A380.

The aircraft VH-OQA (QF32 en-route from Singapore to Sydney) developed a fault shortly after departing Singapore Changi. The resulting incident is well documented when one of the A380’s Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines basically disintegrated about 5 minutes after take-off. The result was a plane, that in theory, could not fly.

Tony J Hughes’s interview gets in-depth about the QF32 event and ‘What Aircrash Investigation didn’t tell you about QF32’ makes a great read.

The ‘Aircrash Investigation’ episode is still available on YouTube and gives an in-site into how the worlds worst air-disaster was averted. Check it out here.

Our own flight was Qantas QF2 and Richard was in the left-hand seat from London Heathrow to Singapore.
The hardware for the flight was VH-OQF A380-842 (Charles Kingsford Smith) pictured below (but not the repaired VH-OQA ‘Nancy-Bird Walton’ from the ill-fated QF32 flight – that would have been interesting!) and fingers crossed we’d have an uneventful flight.
Qantas Airbus A380-800

On boarding I mentioned to Gail that we had some of the best brains in the business at the helm and during the flight Capt. de Crespigny came through the cabin freely chatting with passengers which was a really nice touch.

He came past us and noticed me reading my recent RSGB ‘Radcom’ magazine. He stopped for a chat and he asked what it was all about saying it looked quite technical. The conversation expanded rapidly when he learnt of my interest in amateur radio and antenna design. We chatted for about 5 mins about radio in general and he gave me a good run down on the Airbus A380’s capabilities.

Of course, “It’s all Sat comms now“ he said, so I mentioned how an old school 100w car radio sized transceiver (like my Icom IC706MKIIG) would have been extremely useful on that eventful time in Singapore. He agreed 100% and said that an item such as that would have been indispensable and sometimes a back-to-basics approach is the best.

Richard then invited myself and Gail to the Flight deck of QF2 when we landed in Singapore. This was a real excitement. It’s one thing to be asked to the flight deck of an Airbus A380-800 but to be asked by Capt. Richard de Crespigny is another thing.

Steve and Gail in the cockpit of Qantas Airbus A380-800 QF2 in Singapore Changi

We were both drooling as we were invited to sit in the right and left-hand seats. As you can see from the images, I’m not yet qualified to be Capt, as I struggled to even get the pilots cap on straight.
Steve and Capt. Richard de Crespigny - Flight Qantas QF2 London Heathrow - Singapore 20/11/2019

Gail on the other hand looked the part as she occupied Richards left-hand seat at Singapore Changi.
Gail in the Captains seat of Qantas Airbus A380-800 QF2 in Singapore Changi

The A380 cockpit looks like an oversized computer game with a multitude of displays ad controls. What is apparent is actually how small the cockpit is. Everything of course is digital and to some degree we thought the cabin was tiny in comparison.

Capt. de Crespigny went on to say that the display above the pilots literally lit up like a Christmas tree when QF32 hit trouble; something every pilot just doesn’t want to experience. Richard said “You train in the simulator for every possible scenario – but what QF32 experienced was an event far and beyond any training simulator could throw at you.”

I remember his wife Coral saying in the Aircrash Investigation interview that there was no better person on this earth that could have landed this aircraft and anyone else would have not pulled it off.

Quoting his wife; Richard said that “Well that’s my wife and she’s slightly biased”. Well all went well and we had a safe and uneventful flight to Singapore.

I’d like to thank Capt. Richard de Crespigny and the crew of flight Qantas QF2 for the excellent flight en-route to Sydney via Singapore and Richard’s warm welcome to us both and the very kind invitation to see the flight deck of the giant Airbus A380-800 first hand – it was a real experience. Thank-you Richard and your team.

QF32 – By Qantas Airbus A380 Captain Richard de Crespigny

Best-selling book QF32 by Capt. Richard de Crespigny

Capt. de Crespigny also signed his best-selling book ‘QF32‘ for us which makes an excellent read.

Steve and Gail Lawman – QF2/QF1 – London Heathrow – Sydney – November 20th 2019


Vortex Antenna Systems – Past and Upcoming Activation Information

We have no plans for any activations in 2020 – but plans are in progress for IOTA in 2021 – stay tuned!!

December 2nd – December 9th 2019
Thanks to all who worked us under difficult conditions.
QSL’s are slightly delayed but will be ready in July 2020 – see the proof below

QSL/Proof Heron Island OC-142
Steve VK2IAY/4 Heron Island OC-142

Thanks to all the stations that I spoke to whilst on Heron Island IOTA OC-142. The conditions on the band were challenging at best but I managed over 400 QSO’s in total. Of the 7 days of operation, 2 days were more or less flat with little or no conditions. I was also surprised that on this occasion during the Pacific evening, the band noise increased considerably. Certainly not noise free as was the activation to Lady Elliot Island (Also OC-142) in 2003. However, in 2003 the solar figures were in much better shape. There is normally a slight increase in noise during the evenings but not too much. This time was an exception.

Steve VK2IAY/4 Heron Island OC-142

During the Pacific daytime band noise was zero. This is how I normally find conditions whatever time of the sunspot cycle. On 2 of the days I had good openings to EU but noise levels increased to S7 on both evenings over a 3 hour prime DX period. This was enough to make DX contacts to EU impossible which was disappointing. On three evenings I had two good openings with little or no noise and one evening with about S1-2 of noise. Sorry if you didn’t work us, but we have activations planned for the future years when hopefully the propagation will be more favorable.
A 4 colour 4 sided special QSL is available by sending direct to G0UIH (or via the ‘G’ buro)
Please include the standard $2.00 contribution and an SAE for direct QSL’s.

Heron Island Image


Vortex Antenna Systems – Past Activation Information

LHI Image

VK2IAY/9 – Lord Howe Island – IOTA OC-004 – December 2015

We would like to thank the many stations who we made contact with from Lord Howe Island during our activation in December 2015. A 4 colour 4 sided special QSL is available by sending direct to
Steve Lawman VK2IAY/9, 44 Main St, Barnwell, Peterborough, PE8 5PS – England UK.
Please include the standard $2.00 contribution and an SAE.

Steve - LHI 2015

Steve at the terminal/gate after landing at Lord Howe Island, Australia – December 2015


Parrot Image

The Wonderful Exotic Wildlife of Australia


Fiji Image

VK2IAY/4 – Great Keppel Island IOTA OC-142 and South Molle Island IOTA OC-160 (Queensland – Australia) December 2007

I would like to thank the many stations who made the contact from ‘Great Keppel and South Molle Islands – Queensland, Australia’ during my activation in December 2007.

Fuerteventura 2006 Image

EA8/G0UIH/p – Fuerteventura Island (Canary Islands) IOTA AF-004 – Summer 2006

I would like to thank the many stations who made the contact from ‘Fuerteventura Island – Canary islands’ during my activation in the Summer of 2006.

Fiji Image

3D2FI – Nacula Island (Fiji) IOTA OC-156, Beachcomber Island (Fiji) IOTA OC-121 and VK2IAY/4 Nth Stradbroke Island (QLD – Australia) IOTA OC-137 – December 2004/January 2005

I would like to thank the many stations who made the contact from ‘Nacula, Beachcomber or North Stradbroke Islands – Fiji/Queensland’ during my activation in December 2004/January 2005.

Steve and Gail Image

Steve Operating as 3D2FI from Beachcomber (Bure#2) IOTA OC-121 – December 2004


Hook Image

VK2IAY/4 – Hook Island IOTA OC-160, Dunk Island IOTA OC-171 and Lamb (Ngudooroo) Island (OC-137) – December 2003

I would like to thank the many stations who made the contact from ‘Hook, Dunk and Lamb Islands – Queensland’ during my activation in December 2003.

LEI Image

VK2IAY/4 – Lady Elliot Island IOTA OC-142, Fitzroy Island IOTA OC-172 and Nth Stradbroke Island IOTA OC-137 – December 2002

I would like to thank the many stations who made the contact from ‘Lady Elliot, Fitzroy or North Stradbroke Islands – Queensland’ during my activation in December 2002.

Honeymoon Image

W4/G0UIH/M – Honeymoon and Clearwater Islands – IOTA NA034 – 1998

I would like to thank the many stations who made the contact from ‘Honeymoon and Clearwater Islands – USA Gulf Coast’ during my activation in 1998.

The logs for all previous activations are always open: QSL’s are available direct from:

Steve Lawman, 44 Main St, Barnwell, Peterborough, PE8 5PS – England UK

Please include the standard $2.00 contribution and an SAE.

The original webpages of previous activations are still shown on-line.
Link HERE to percy.me.uk
for all older legacy pages (These pages are not updated anymore)