Field Day–Get on the Air (GOTA) Stations

Another fun exercise for Field Day is creating a Get on the Air (GOTA) station. It is an opportunity for any newly licensed amateurs, generally inactive licensees, and non-licensed individuals to experience firsthand the excitement of amateur radio by allowing them to get on the air.

A club or Emergency Operations Center (EOC) may employ only one GOTA station. This station may operate on any permitted Field Day band (HF or VHF) for which the control operator has privileges. The modes and frequencies are determined by the license class of the control operator of the GOTA station. There must always be a control operator with operating privileges for the frequencies and modes desired present at the control point of the GOTA station any time it is transmitting.

GOTA, Get on the Air Banner

The GOTA station may contact any other amateur radio station with a couple of exceptions. The GOTA station may not work its “parent” Field Day station or contact any station operated by a person who is involved with their group’s Field Day operation. Remember, if a DX station is involved, the FCC rules involving third-party traffic apply. A station worked by the group’s main Field Day setup may be worked again by the GOTA station and not considered a dupe.

The GOTA station uses a callsign separate from the call used by the group’s main Field Day operation. The GOTA station must use the same callsign for the duration of Field Day. You must have permission of the trustee of the callsign in order to use it for the GOTA station. Also remember the general rules of station ID-ing. All Technician licensees may be used, but if the call is being used outside of the Technician privileges of the licensee, it must also include the callsign of the control operator, who must be present at the control point. GOTA stations use the same exchange as its “parent” station.

Field Day 2023 Logo

Not everyone can operate a GOTA station. The mostly inactive licensee provisions pertain to someone who holds a General or higher license but has been inactive. The list of operators of this station must be submitted with the Field Day entry.

The intent of the station is to provide an opportunity for people to gain on-the-air experience and rise to perhaps operate a regular club station or personal station in the future. The intent is not to develop a group of permanent GOTA Field Day operators. A GOTA station cannot be operated by a club “ringer” in order to gain additional points. For example, a seasoned operator who has been away at college and off the air for a couple of years really is not considered a mostly inactive amateur.

Hams can operate both GOTA and the main stations as long as they meet the requirements of license class and be generally inactive. It is not permissible for a seasoned operator to operate the GOTA station.

While every GOTA station will be different, you’ll want to bring a canopy, table and chairs, radio, antenna, coax cable, power supply and power cable, extension cords, and laptop with power cord. You’ll also want paper and pencil to jot down notes and ideas. This can be an excellent teaching experience for non-hams and those who have been inactive.

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