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Radios And What To Use.

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I believe that to legally use an airband radio on the ground for balloon recovery communications you’d need to get a license to operate an Aeronautical Multicom Station. Here is a link that describes that: http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=about&id=ground_stations <http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=about&id=ground_stations>. I’m not sure what that would cost, but it’s probably not cheap (I was unable to get the FCC’s online licensing application to work, so I couldn’t find out).


If I were you, I’d suggest getting a pair of ICOM UHF business band radios and get them programmed to use the BFA frequencies (provided you’re a BFA member). The best price I’ve seen on a great radio is the ICOM IC-F4001 from Action Communications: http://www.actioncommunications.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=ACI&Product_Code=icf400142dtc&Category_Code=hh-icom-uhf <http://www.actioncommunications.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=ACI&Product_Code=icf400142dtc&Category_Code=hh-icom-uhf>. They are priced at $156.00 with the upgraded Li-Ion battery and rapid charger. I also purchased the ICOM HM158L speaker mic and the fasc73us stubby antennas (suitable for use with the BFA frequencies), which are nicer than the standard (longer) flexible antennas. They are great, rugged, and small radios, and will work better than using airband transceivers for chase radios.




David Tanzer

Warren, Vermont



On Oct 20, 2015, at 2:52 PM, Tom Rathke <hotairtom@mac.com> wrote:


Long time ago in a land far, far away… I used a pair of ICOM radios for ballooning and liked them a lot. In fact they were both aircraft radios, one in the balloon and one in the chase truck. If I remember correctly, I needed a FCC license to operate the one in the truck. Is this still possible and what is involved (remind me)?


I need an aircraft radio because of the airport I frequently launch out of. But I’m also exploring using UHF radios on the BFA frequencies. However, now I need 3 radios because I still need an aircraft radio in the balloon.


What are my options here? I had asked someone privately on the reflector, who I thought sold radios, for advice and all I got was to get a hold of someone who went to Fiesta. Not my idea of radio shopping. I just want to know about using aircraft radios for chase (if that’s a viable option) and who has a good price ICOM for either aircraft and UHF that I can use on the BFA frequencies.


Thanks for any advice,



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