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!