Saturday, July 26, 2008

Radio Time: My Icom A14

Beginning what is certainly going to be a long and never-ending pilot tradition of collecting gadgets, I recently ordered a transceiver. The Icom IC-A14, which you can order yourself by clicking here. It's a portable radio that allows me to talk to air traffic control, turn on pilot-controlled lighting, listen to the weather, and so on. There has been a lot of discussion amongst students and pilots over on the AOPA's forums and a few of us ordered A14's last week based on a very positive overall consensus about its form and function.

Why did I order a hand-held radio? Well for starters, one of a pilot's best friends is a backup and it never hurts to have one if the radio in the airplane dies. It's also good for use on the ground when you don't want to run down the airplane's battery just to check the weather. As far as training goes, it's very useful since I can use it in the car, at home, or anywhere else to listen to and become familiar with air traffic control. While we don't have radios or electrical systems in the Champ or the Cub, I will be talking on the airwaves soon enough in the Cessna 150. Lastly, it will be nice to listen in on communications when I go to airshows.

I have not yet used my little Icom very much, but I will still offer some brief thoughts about the unit. Please comment on this post or shoot me an email, now or in the future, if you have any questions about my experience with the A14.

  • Great form factor, easily fits in my hand and good ergonomics
  • Seems to have great range - I'm picking up the ATIS from Wright-Patterson AFB on the ground at my apartment, which is over 8 miles away
  • UPDATE: Range is definitely good, easily 15+ miles reception in the air.
  • Battery life - haven't used it enough to run them down but the 2,000 mAh LiIon pack is reported to last a very long time
  • Feels very solid and appears quite rugged and durable
  • Can get LOUD if you need it to thanks to 700 mW audio - trust me, you can crank it up if needed
  • 8 character alphanumeric names can be assigned to memory channels
  • Keys are not backlit, only the LCD display lights up green
  • No "flip-flop" button/feature to quickly return to the prior frequency

4/5 Cubs

If you decide to purchase this radio based upon my review, I would appreciate if you do so by clicking on this Amazon linkIt really helps support the blog. Thanks! -Steve


  1. Nice radio! I bought a different Icomm unit (can't remember the model number, however) and love it.
    Sounds like your training is going as well as mine is.

    Keep it up!

    Greg P.
    Huntington, WV

  2. I certainly agree about the many advances with the A14! One minor point is my experience with the programming being a bit of a challenge. However, the biggest difficulty I have experienced to date is inadvertently erasing names/frequencies by mistakenly pushing the wrong combination of keys. I wish that there would be some way to lock in all the data entered yet still leaving the flexibility to switch frequencies etc.

    Garth M.
    Salmon Arm BC

  3. Garth,

    I have to agree with you on the programming - it's a bit screwy at times. Honestly, I haven't put too many channels into memory and rarely use the feature. But it definitely could be a more user-friendly process!