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2 Answers

VHF Air Band Radio

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General Aviation, Student Pilot

I'm interested in purchasing a vhf transceiever to have in my flight bag, you never know when it could come in handy. I don't want to shell out $200 plus for one off somewhere like sportys; that $200 could go towards flight lessons or something. I want to know whether or not a normal VHF radio like a BaoFeng UV-5R could work, or do I have to purchase a transciever for those specific frequencies. Can a normal VHF radio be programmed for the frequencies between 118 and 138 ?   

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2 Answers

  1. Bob Watson on Dec 21, 2012


    Most (all?) of the multi-band VHF radios are FM (Frequency Modulated) while the aircraft band is AM (Amplitude Modulated). Even if you could program the right frequency (which I’m guessing is unlikely), if you transmitted on one of those frequencies, no one on the aircraft band could understand you and you’d interfere with several adjacent channels as well.

    Sure, the $200 or so you spend on a transceiver could be used for something else, but if you need a handheld, you’ll probably REALLY need it and that $200 will seem like nothing. OTOH, you might not need one for many years (it all depends one what, how, and where you fly), so maybe that’s an investment that you could defer a while. In either case, there are many good choices, these days.

    IMO, $200 is what, about an hour or two of flying? That doesn’t seem like something to quibble over when it comes to safety gear. When I got my handheld about 12 years ago, operating costs were 1/2 what they are today but the handheld cost more than twice as much–$500+. Go figure.

    When you do go shopping for an air-band radio, look for a model with Li-Ion batteries. They don’t auto-discharge as quickly as the NiMH or NiCad batteries found in older models. This means you don’t have to worry (as much) about the radio dying in your flight bag if it hasn’t been charged in a month or so. Another tip: don’t forget to get the headphone and mike adapter so that you can actually use it in the plane while the engine is running.

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  2. Phillip Moore on Dec 21, 2012

    Alright thank you for the quick response. I shouldn’t need one anytime soon, but I’ll be sure to save up for one so that I have one at my disposal some time after my PPL checkride. Thanks again Bob.

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