Everything About The Top 10 Best Handheld Aviation Radio
For any pilot flying any sort of aircraft, handheld aviation radio is one of the most essential investments. It is important that you invest in the best aviation handheld radio within your reach since your life depends on it.
For something as small and essential as an aviation radio, the internet offers tons of variety. And it is important that you meet the one who will perfectly check all your boxes.
After countless hours of researching all over the internet, I have put together 10 of the best handheld aviation radio in the entire market. And in this article, I will share with you all the ins and outs as well as an intensive buying technique that will help you find your perfect match.
So without any further ado, let’s check them out!
The 10 Best Handheld Aviation Radio
Below are 10 of the best handheld aviation radio in the market. However, it is important to understand that the best device for a particular user varies depending on their personal preference and conditions. And so make sure you follow my buying guide to judge what suits you better.
For now, let’s have a look at our options!
1. Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Handheld Scanner
One of the main drawbacks of handheld aviation radio is not knowing which channel you're on or who you're even talking to. Uniden has devised a function that allows you to label channels according to location, department, or even names. The best part is you no longer need to memorize channel numbers to join your alliances.
The Uniden Bearcat is only 1.01 pounds so you won't have to worry about your hand growing tired. The 2 inches width shouldn’t bother with your important communications and is said to be one of the handiest handheld aviation radios.
We are not only reluctant to antennas, but we are also unaware of the advantages of having one. When your signal is weak, you may easily clip the antenna to your best aviation radios, and your connection will be brought back stronger. Imagine this sizeless antenna extending your radius to make your life easier and yet we call this old-fashioned.
In an emergency, the do-not-disturb mode can be quite valuable because it blocks all interruptions, including those to your priority channels. It's no longer the norm for important transmissions to be disrupted by other frequencies.
Uniden Bearcat BC125AT, like any other modern mobile device, allows you to share information with your computer. Their powerful programming capability has enabled data to be shared directly from your computer to your radio equipment.
Overall, purchasing this Uniden communication transmitter at such a minimal price is a great move. It's truly amazing how they managed to cram all of the necessary features, such as a key lock and memory backup, into such a little low orbit; it's difficult to think of a flaw.
2. BAOFENG UV-5R+ Plus
BAOFENG's battery life has pushed the gadget to the top of the rankings. When you're always on the go, a 1800mAh battery with a standby time of up to 96 hours makes life easier. They've made sure you don't have any plans to return home with their extendable batteries.
The 3800mAh BL-5L extendable battery is always an option for making things simple and practically forgetting that you have a device that requires recharging.
You'll almost certainly drop this handheld radio transmitter if you drop your smartphone. The only difference is that, unlike your smartphones, you won't have to replace them. The tough metallic casing makes it more durable than ever, ensuring that you won't have to replace it as often as you would your smartphone. It has a strong resemblance to the Nokia keypad cellphones.
Their user-friendly interface lives up to their claim of being the best amateur radio handheld. Most new radio transmitter users have found its simple setup function to be quite useful, and they seem to enjoy it based on their feedback.
When your device is charging, an indicator light turns on, and when it is fully charged, a second one flashes for user convenience. Its UI is all about smoothness in order for the user to get the greatest experience possible without getting lost in the list of options.
The BAOFENG UV is a straightforward pick for a newbie seeking portable radios, owing to its prolonged battery life, simple UI, and durability.
3. Yaesu FTA750L
The inbuilt GPS receiver has been put on the list of one-of-a-kind technologies. The aircraft's VHF radio has 66 channels, all of which are GPS-enabled. You won't get lost thanks to the smart GPS receiver, which is always exact and at your disposal.
The GPS capability on the Yaesu FTA was not limited, and the GPS logging feature was used to its utmost extent. If you've ever been asked to return to a specific spot and you don't remember the numbers obviously. GPS logging is key here, allowing you to go back in time at any time. GPS is nothing short of a magic show.
The Yaesu's sound quality is ear-kissing. Speakers are examined to ensure that every hole in the speaker is crystal clear. The piercing, ear-splitting sound guarantees that you hear your friend's mumbling on the other end.
There will most likely be a lot going on in the background, therefore any radio device should have a bullhorn. The speakers complete the package and elevate it to the top of the best aircraft transceivers list.
Above all, the addition of a water-resistant system is the cherry on top. The IPX5 water-resistance grade assures that you don't lose your live chat to a silly spilling. Showering and operating your Yaesu FTA is not a joke either! That is something you can do without a care in the world.
But don't dare to take it along for a ride in the pool and be like “I thought it was water-resistant.”
The only downside is its weight. If you hold it for an extended period of time, it won’t be good for your hand. When you consider all of the benefits, this drawback is insignificant compared to all of the other advantages.
4. Icom IC-A16B
The modern era has arrived, and with it, the modern Icom IC-A16B, which eliminates the discomfort associated with traditional portable aviation radios. Air-to-ground radios now include Bluetooth, so you don't have to carry about those bulky devices for any type of transmission. Simply place the Bluetooth device on your ear and you're good to go.
Weather is also a priority when you are always on the go. A rain check can always be handy when you are out there in the hood. Now with this really useful feature, you can always get a rain check take safety precautions with you, and always be one step ahead of the weather.
Icom is the way to go if you're seeking a reliable aircraft radio scanner. There's no way a manufacturer can offer a three-year warranty unless they know what they're in for. You have the option to be hassle-free in the future with a three-year warranty.
It's always reassuring for a user to know that their item is covered by a warranty and that their best aircraft radio can be replaced if something goes wrong.
I appreciate Icom for this initiative, called the "Emergency Button." The button's sole purpose is to save lives. By pressing it, you will automatically switch to a 121.5MHz emergency channel. The emergency channel can convey your current location and request assistance from Air Traffic Control.
This should be the default setting on any portable aviation radio. This little button has the potential to save lives and is a must-include for manufacturers.
5. Standard Horizon HX210
While you're up there, a little news and entertainment can help a bit. Standard Horizon has integrated an FM radio feature to its aircraft VHF radio. Having this feature is an excellent illustration of multifunctionality.
Listening to all of the news and keeping up with what's going on in the world constantly, as well as entertainment talk shows, is an essential part of this.
This manufacturer has mostly focused on water resistance and has progressed through it. Apart from being IPX7 certified, it has made full use of its water-resistance properties. The device begins flashing lights as soon as it enters the water, making it simpler to locate than if there were no flashing lights.
As per handheld aviation radio reviews, the device offers a simple UI that even a 70-year-old can operate without difficulty. With just a few clicks of those ear-pleasing buttons, you can modify according to your desires. According to the poll, 97 percent of respondents chose the "user-friendly interface" option.
This radio transmitter's display is one of the crispiest we’ve seen yet. You won't have any trouble reading whether it's a 6 or 8 in the dark thanks to its backlight. The display section's screen size is a handicap. Just looking at a little bit more display would be terrific.
The Standard Horizon does not appear to have a GPS built-in, which eliminates their major motive of finding their device on water. A built-in GPS would undoubtedly fulfill its entire purpose, putting it even higher on the list of best aircraft radios.
6. Yaesu FTA-250L
Yaesu has come up with their exclusive budget-friendly VHF aviation radio for all the folks out there looking for radio communication devices in a reasonable price range.
It was a huge challenge for them to provide such a battery at a quite low price. Your device comes with a 1950mAh lithium-ion battery that will keep you fueled for days. Unlike other batteries, Yaesu's battery has been thoroughly optimized to get the most out of the juice you've charged up. You will not be disappointed with 72 hours of functioning performance.
The 700mW audio output is definitely one of the key features that bring it up to the air-to-ground radios list. With that strong of audio, there’s not even a slight chance of you missing out on anything even in the noisiest place you can ever be.
Having the ability to keep 200 channels, rename them as desired, and not having to memorize those numbers is quite preferred for any flyers. Just like you keep mobile numbers, you can now save the channels that your coworkers are listening to.
Yaesu is very concerned about the quality of their products, and the FTA-250L is no exception. It has earned a place in the tough category thanks to its tough Polycarbonate casing.
Few aircraft handheld radio review communities have shared their experiences with Yaesu's durability by dropping it a few times. The results stood up to the company's reputation for toughness, leaving no blemishes.
However, if you're seeking UHF receivers, the FTA-250L isn't the right place to start.
7. ICOM IC-M25 21
Icom didn't just give your handheld radio an IPX7 grade and let it go scuba diving. Their improved draining function has allowed them to take their radio scuba diving with no risk. When you pick up your aircraft radio the draining feature immediately activates. When the speaker grills realize they've had a shower, they begin to spill the liquids out of the small gaps.
With a weight of 0.48 pounds in your hand, you won't even realize you're holding a device with such incredible capabilities. It's usually reassuring for a user to know that the device won't put too much strain on their hands, allowing them to also take the weight off their chest.
Icom has also assured that consumers' handsets are secure. With a simple tap, you can change the channel you're listening to Channel 16. Channel 16 is the international distress frequency where you can request assistance as well as listen to all of the latest information from the coast guard.
The device contains a micro-USB charging port, which is a bonus. Even though your phones have type-c ports, I'm sure you still have some micro USB gadgets with you. So instead of carrying a bunch of wires in your pocket, you can just take a cable and charge everything including your best air to ground radios.
In comparison to all of these advantages, the one drawback is that you can't use your device while it's charging. Looking inward, it's a minor flaw given that you already have that juicy 1500 mAH.
8. Sporty’s SP-400 Handheld NAV/COM Aviation
Sporty's isn't here to sell you a typical airplane handheld radio. In my eyes, they have completely changed the game in this market. To begin with, it isn't a bulky radio that is challenging to hold. When it comes to appearances, the Sport's one has a smooth texture and a fantastic finish making it look like the smartest aircraft radio.
Despite their looks, they have also emphasized the display. You don't need to be an expert pilot out there with their widescreen ILS display on the front. The ILS offers a precise measurement of how far they are from the landing line in terms of high-low or left-right.
The Sporty's has done away with the old-school aircraft handheld radio batteries. You can now use those AA batteries in your best air-to-ground radios, which you can find in any store. The nicest aspect is that you may bring as many batteries with you as you desire.
You won't see anything except the ILS display. Therefore you don't have to be a geek to use a radio. All you have to do with the Sporty's radio is type in the frequency, and it will automatically connect you to it. There will be no problems finding the settings in your menu because there is none here.
I would personally recommend this item to anyone who already owns a portable aircraft radio. Regardless of its appearance, it has a lot to offer to a professional fly. If I start talking about all the features, I won't be able to stop talking anytime soon.
9. YAESU FTA-850L
Let’s come to the display section first. Having a color display is very common nowadays but I haven’t seen any colored display on an air-band handheld transceiver yet. And now, here is Yaesu again with their advanced technology.
The FTA-850L has a TFT display that enhances the color pixels on the screen. It gives the pixels a little more sharpness and gives you a clean, high-contrast image.
As a pilot contrast is very important. You can just keep it on a holder at the side of your cockpit and still see the display clear for its high contrast colorful display.
Like any other Yaesu device on the market, the FTA-850L comes with a three-year guarantee. This bold approach establishes them as a brand. It's reassuring to know that someone will always be there to make up for your messes.
The polycarbonate material of the device has been demonstrated to be superior to any other plastic casings used by other transceivers, making the airband transceiver super great. Aside from that, it features an IPX5 waterproof rating which can come to the rescue in a pinch. That means you can bury your transceiver for nearly half an hour at a depth of 1 meter.
The bread and butter of communication is a channel bandwidth. It's easier than ever to communicate with a greater channel bandwidth. The channel spacing affects the reception and audio quality of your transceiver. So you're good to go out in the wind with a 25Khz.
10. ICOM IC-A25C Sport
The design of this aircraft VHF radio is appealing to users of all ages. The radio has ten keypads and is reminiscent of the old school phones we used in the 2010s. As a result, we are all familiar with the device's user interface, and providing it a relatable interface makes it more convenient for a user.
"Flip Flop Channel Recall" is a notable characteristic of this Icom gadget. It remembers the last ten frequencies for you, making it easy for you to change stations at any time. When you need to maintain track of other channels having this functionality is crucial; instead of dialing one by one, simply FLIP-FLOP.
The big display is a blessing compared to all the other tiny displays on those humongous aviation radio scanner. The 2.3-inch LCD display comes in handy to see those tiny numbers on your screen whereas you would need to take the radio zoomed in on your face.
The Automatic Noise Limiter (ANL) is an ear saver that makes this Icom device well worth the money. It eliminates the annoying static noise that you don't want coming from your device and into your ears. Your ears would only hear soothing audio with this ANL feature, with no interruptions.
To summarize, purchasing a device is a wise decision that comes with a nostalgic sensation. The 2.3-inch display, interface, and ANL feature package the IC-A25C as a worthwhile investment. This wholesome also comes with a three-year warranty, ensuring that you enjoy the best features without the fear of losing them.
The Complete Buying Guide: Handheld Aviation Radio
Knowing what you're buying is crucial to getting the most bang for your buck. The variables listed below will be important in determining whether or not you should purchase the handheld aviation radio you desire.
Instead of confusing you with complex words, the factors are stated in such a way that even elementary school students can understand which aviation device they need.
On your aviation device, you can acquire coverage for Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF). VHF is a good choice if you need to communicate outside, such as in a congested area. When it comes to indoors, however, UHF is the way to go because it can penetrate through dense materials like metals.
If you're going to use one of these handheld radios in a noisy environment, you'll want to make sure it has sufficient audio output. Anything over 550mW is ideal for dealing with loud noises because the sound will be loud and clear enough for you to hear.
The audio reception is influenced by the channel spacing. The lower the channel spacing, the less clear the voice will be. Therefore, be sure the gadget you're buying has a channel spacing of at least 8Khz.
If you don't like to remember stuff, the channel memory numbers are what you should be concerned about. With more channel memory, it will be able to retain more data and connect with a single tap, similar to a speed dial.
In these airplane radios, the display is also a major consideration. Any user would find a display with insufficient contrast to be less useful. Looking at it from the sides, the contrast isn't as sharp as you'd think. LCD displays are commonly used in these types of scenarios and may be relied upon.
GPS can be really essential. If you lose your device, you can find out where it is. In the event of an emergency, rescuers will always be able to locate you and come to your aid. As a result, having a GPS on your radio is always a plus.
If you already know that your device will be going through rough and tough days then it is also important to make sure you grab the toughest one. For dust and water protection, a handheld radio with an IPX7 rating is more than adequate. You are welcome to bring your device with you while you go fishing.
Frequently Asked Questions
At this point, your head must be filled with a series of concerns, and it’s okay to do so. In this section let me answer some of the most frequently asked questions that buyers have regarding handled aviation radio.
1. Which handheld aviation radio should I buy?
Buying a handheld aviation radio depends on a number of factors. Make sure you identify all your required conditions, such as coverage and channel spacing, before you make a purchase.
2. Why do I need an aviation handheld radio?
Handheld aviation radios are the only form of media from the ground to an aircraft. It is important that a pilot keeps in touch with those on the ground and vice versa.
3. Are aircraft radios VHF or UHF?
It depends on the aircraft. VHF has been the oldest communication procedure adapted by the aircraft, whereas, UHF is a newer technology.
4. How VHF Comm Works?
VHF comm works through the transmission of direct waves to and from devices. One flaw of the system is the signal weakens as the distance between devices increases.
5. What is the airband or aircraft band allocated to radio communication?
The airband or aircraft band is the range of frequency that provides the optimum communication in between the VHF networks.
6. What is the frequency range of Aviation Handheld Radios?
The frequency range may vary from the device. Where the most frequency range is between 108MHz to 137MHz.
7. Does Motorola make an aviation radio?
Motorola is known as one of the best manufacturers of both marine and aircraft radio.
In this article, we looked into the 10 best handheld aviation radio. And after aviation handheld radio reviews I mentioned all the ins and out of how to buy the one that’s will fit your needs. In the end, I also answered some of the most common queries buyers have regarding these devices.
I hope you found this useful and I believe you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. Always coss-check the battery of your radio before the flight.
Fly safe and fly responsibly.
Till next time, bon voyage!