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Airband Radio in UK


Mark Pugh
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AM is used for aircraft because of the lack.of capture effect.

 

As for selecting a freq outside the amateur bands, hmmm.  Unlicensed use of an amateur band is one thing, using an unlicensed, unauthorised radio on some band you just make up could open yourself to a can of worms.  The uhf band for example is shared military...start messing about there and ofcom might start looking.   I really would stay within the amateur 2m band and annoy no one.

 

On the other hand, you could just take your amateur licence...its not so hard and is a lot of fun. I've been licenced now for forty years and still get immense pleasure from using morse code alMost daily.    But that's another story...and its still not an FRTOL. I had to do full.training for amateur, FRTO and my marine radio. Learnt something everytime. 

 

 

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Never seen any figures for this, but I've had my G7TVF license (Class B) since about 1982 and my G0WKT license (Class A) for well over 25 years and using the amateur bands in the air would definitely upset the amateur radio enthusiasts who will happily self police it. Being outside these bands by 30kc is the only frequencies I've ever seen paragliders and hang gliders use and never known anyone ever be overheard or prosecuted. I believe the 143.970 MHz channel is actually even legal in Europe for free flight teaching and competitions.

I would not go far beyond these frequencies due to other people using them and the antenna not being tuned for this.

There is one Airband frequency that is legally used air-to-air for hang gliders, paragliders and PPG, that is 122.475 MHz AM. Now I have my RTFL and so does another club member, I will report back how useful I find airband.

I do not think the cheap Chinese BAOFENG radios even have type approval for use in the UK, never mind amateur radio use outside the frequency bands. Due to the filtering and the wide frequency availability. China does not have to follow our licensing rules and it's a grey area when we import them ourselves!

My first ICOM 144 MHz (2m Band) was bought in about 1994 and I had to de-restrict certain features to use outside the amateur bands for paragliding use. So even the official expensive radios could be opened up for "illegal" use even then; Baofeng have just made it easier!!!

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Fair enough. Here in wiltshire we use the amateur portions of 2m...lets face it, there is no one else there.  

 

Whether the beofungs are are approved or not they are extremely popular and sold by mainstream dealers, so i am sure they are approved. Absolutely certain. 

 

I guess you just use the freqs that you know don't cause trouble and get on with it!  The range is minimal, even in the air it's not going to be much. Id like to try it One day, proper 2m qso I mean. Just sign /M and no one will be any the wiser.   Maybe even try HF via a trailing wire antenna...oh, hang on.....

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  • 2 weeks later...

Whilst paragliding in approx. 1996 I always used a trailing antenna, just to get the 5W furthest from my body! But not such a great idea with a prop. strapped to your back!

As for minimal range.... It's virtually line of site! People have bounced signals off the moon to get around the curvature of the earth. Many of my Ham friends received QSL cards (confirmation of radio contact) from the old Russian space station and even from the ISS. The range on VHF and UHF can be huge and in the air our signal will be picked up from miles away.

I have over 50 QSL cards from Australia when the 11 year cycle is in force!!! Bouncing the signal off the ionosphere.

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  • 1 month later...

Well I've now had my airband license for a while. Has it been useful? I can talk to the other paramotor pilot in my club legally from the air, I frequently inform my local grass strip that I'm flying "Snitterfield Traffic, Paramotor 1, operating from Wootton Wawen to Studley at no more than 1000 feet". If they are at the airport, I get a response that they will let other pilots know I'm in the air. Do they pilots then come and look at me, probably, I get them coming past with a wave but at least they've seen me!

I'm still waiting to see a balloonist in the air while I'm flying, then I can use their frequency and request to fly closer. Not happened yet, but I'm hopeful.

Amplitude Modulation does seem "lower" tech. compared with FM; background interference when talking even when the squelch is set properly. Older technology really. But it does seem to work better nearer the engine; with 2m or 70cm I did have to go to tick-over to use the radio at all, maybe that is just having a well designed Yaesu, rather than a cheap Chinese radio. Better filtering, maybe.

Biggest negative is the expense, we can spend thousands on wings and motor, but object to the licensing cost and radio cost of airband. It would def. be much better if more PPG converted...but the cost would put most off. I now know of 4 PPG pilots that have upgraded to airband radio.

 

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Just found this thread, really interesting info. I have been thinking about this for a while as I fly from a semi busy microlight aerodrome.

but my research didn’t help much, this thread however has.

Will have to give Andy an email.

 

thanks again for doing the leg work :) 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi andyy, it is the next step to being "professional"; I fly in the UK and we are remarkably unregulated in our hobby, this will not last forever. I see at least an airlaw exam having to be sat and maybe compulsory insurance in the near future. I try to stay as legal as possible, I took my rating through BHPA school, so have basic insurance, always fly with a large reserve, now carry airband radio, try to fly at 500 feet and 1000 feet over villages and towns and obviously stay away from airspace. But several of my launches are grass strips and even farmers like to see some insurance in place before giving the go-ahead.

The more "professional" we can become, the less likely we will become over regulated in the future.

170 BEST.jpg

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