Plane & Pilot
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Buyer’s Guide: The Active Pilot’s Flight Bag

Consider one of these exciting new products

garmin gpsFlight bags have certainly changed over the years, but what has changed most is what today’s pilots consider “must have.” My first flight bag was a military flying suit with pockets everywhere, each stuffed with some necessity.
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VistaNav CIS-2000

VistaNav CIS-2000: The large touch display is crystal clear and has been designed with the latest avionics-style buttons and dials. The CIS-2000 employs the latest ARS/GPS module to drive the VistaNav Synthetic Vision System and offers an independent battery-backup, emergency-awareness display, complete with the popular HITS (Highway in the Sky). Many options are available, including two types of tablet PCs, dual GPS and weather antenna, plus various mounting options. A weather receiver, an XRX Traffic bundle plus software updates for the database and operational software are also available. Suggested Retail Price: $6,500 and up. Contact: Mercury Computer Systems, (866) 627-6950,

Handheld Transceivers

ICOM IC-A24: Easy one-hand operation is the most desirable feature of the communication/navigation-equipped IC-A24. The well-labeled, large keypad assures friendly operation. Both the keypad and display are backlit for readability in any light. The unit stores the last 10 channels you used for fast flip-flop recall. The radio has VOR-navigation functions, including to and from, and deviation from, the station. Power is supplied via its own battery, AC adapter, optional aux battery or 12-volt panel adapter. The water-resistant unit operates under damp conditions. Suggested Retail Price: $392. Contact: ICOM America, (800) 426-7983,

Sporty’s Handheld Radios: My Sporty’s combo broadcast and aircraft frequency radio is on all day, tuned to the Apple Valley Airport Unicom. I listen to my favorite oldies-but-goodies music station, and when there’s activity on the Unicom, it switches to that frequency. There are a large number of handheld radios of every type—navcom and/or aviation frequencies—and to make it easy to choose, Sporty’s has listed a number of them on a detailed chart on its Website. We highly recommend a visit to access the company’s handheld-radio directory. Suggested Retail Price: $99 and up. Contact: Sporty’s, (800) SPORTYS,

Vertex VXA-220 Pro VI: This new, small handheld transceiver is stylish, solid and waterproof. The Pro VI provides communication over the International Aircraft Communication Band and will receive on the Navigation Band. The unit provides 700 mW of clean audio output and supplies 8.33-kHz synthesizer steps for the soon-to-appear narrow-band channels. The Pro will monitor NOAA weather band. The unit’s large memory includes 150 memory channels and 100 book memory channels. Suggested Retail Price: $189. Contact: Vertex Standard, (714) 827-7600,


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