Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dasho T. Yonten (A51TY): Silent-Key

Dasho Thuji Yonten (A51TY) went Silent-Key on 28th August, 2012. He was 75 years old. He was not only the first Director of Bhutan’s Civil Wireless; more significantly, amateurs around the world knew him as the first Bhutanese Ham radio operator to be heard on the world amateur radio bands. Available records show that he became active, for the first time, in January of 1972. His initial CallSign was AC5TY which he subsequently changed to A51TY.

The country prefix "AC5" is a mystery - I do not know how that came to be. May be the decision to adopt it was influenced by the country prefixes of our two closest neighbors – Tibet and Sikkim. Tibet’s country prefix was "AC4" and Sikkim was known by the prefix "AC3". However, both these countries ceased to be DX nations when China took over Tibet in the early 1950’s and Sikkim was annexed by India in the mid 70's. Consequently, their country prefixes were deleted from the official DX records - Sikkim's on 30.04.1975 and Tibet’s a year earlier – on 30.05.1974.

Bhutan seems to have got our current country prefix – "A51" – sometime in 1972 as a result of which Dasho Yonten changed his CallSign to A51TY. The prefix "A51" in the CallSign is the Bhutan country prefix and the alphabets "TY" stands for the initials of Dasho Thuji Yonten.

Two of his following QSL Cards are among the most prized by the world amateur community.

Having gone off the air since his brief emergence in 1972, Dasho Yonten coming back on air was something of a world event. After 1972, the next time he was heard on the amateur bands was 28 years later - on 27th April, 2000. That event was broadcast over the DX News network, on 29th April, 2000, as follows:

“The second happy news is that Yonten, A51TY has been back on the air since 27 April at 12.01 UTC. He made his first CW (with RW0JR) and SSB (with VK9NL) QSOs on 20 metres”.

Records show that it was Mr. Jim Smith from Australia who got Dasho Yonten to come back on the airwaves - in order that amateurs around the world could get an opportunity to exchange a QSO with an extremely rare operator - A51TY - from the world’s second rarest DX country at that time.

The photo below shows the QTH from where Dasho Yonten is supposed to have operated his amateur radio in the early 1970's.

PS: When a HAM radio operator goes Silent-Key, it means he is no more.


  1. Dasho Yonten represents communications in the early 50's to the 80's when telephone was not reliable and only form of communication with rural and remote outpost was the wirless. He and his team of wirless operators kept the the nation connected. sincer and dedicated to King and country till his dying days, may he rest in peace.

  2. Rest In Peace Uncle Dashola.
    I remember your smile towards me before i left the house with your daughters the last time i visited.
    Will always keep you in my prayers.