I drank the lemonade a few years back after reading again and again in other aviation magazines that we’re supposed to have a backup radio in case our panels go dark. According to the pundits, having a second, panel-mounted nav/comm isn’t enough. So let’s see, I’ve owned eight airplanes and flown dozens more. Last year, I had three alternator failures, but I’ve never had a panel go dark. Nevertheless, I bought into the scenario and did some research on Icom, Yaesu, and Sporty’s handhelds.
At home, I have two amateur radio transceivers: an Icom 7300 and a Yaesu FTDX-101MP. Both Yaesu and Icom make A+ equipment. Ultimately, I purchased a Sporty’s SP-400 because it has nav/comm/ILS-VOR in it and it features a large-format screen and buttons, making it easier to use in a bouncing airplane. However, when I’m walking around my airport or AirVenture, it’s too big. So I was looking for another backup comm for walking around that’s smaller and lighter but just as high quality. I started looking at Aircraft Spruce and other suppliers, but I really didn’t want to buy an expensive new radio.
I had an epiphany and went online to eBay, where I found many used handheld transceivers. Some were new and high-priced. Some were very old for very little money, but I have no idea if they worked or not. After a couple of weeks of infrequent searching, I came across an Icom A-22 Nav/Comm.
It came with a manual, antenna, wall charger, NiCad battery pack, and AA-cell battery pack. I plugged in the NiCad battery pack and, not surprisingly, it didn’t work. I plugged the charger into the battery pack, but after a few hours, it still didn’t work. I removed the NiCad pack and set it aside. I put alkaline AA batteries in the other battery pack, attached it to the radio, powered it up, and it worked perfectly. I brought it to the airport, tested the transmit function, then took it airborne and tested the VOR. It worked perfectly again.
When I got home, I retrieved the NiCad battery pack and found the model number. I ordered a new rechargeable battery pack on Amazon for $28, and I had it in about three days. The new battery pack worked so the radio now works with both battery packs.
In the end, I got a like-new nav/comm transceiver for about $80. I now carry it in my car all the time and on my belt when I’m walking around the airport. Can you beat that? Good deals are available. If you patiently search on eBay and other retail websites, you should be able to score a successful purchase, too!