Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Staying Safe

A guide to gadgets that will keep you and your passengers secure

staying safeRemember when CB radios were actually useful? Like CBs and just about everything originally intended for emergency purposes, many of the safety items listed in this article are for situations of distress, where life, eyesight or organ health is in danger. Let’s all be careful and professional when using PLBs (personal locator beacons) and ELTs (emergency locator transmitters).
" />

staying safeIcom IC-A24
Icom’s newest navcom handheld device, the IC-A24, is an indispensable addition to your flight bag. Its small size and 15.2-ounce weight won’t disturb your cockpit, and this one-hand-use VOR receiver with one-touch 121.5 tuning, weather and 10-channel “flip-flop” recall will be all you’ll need to get home safely if your panel goes dark. And if you’re flying a light machine, the A24 may be all you’ll feel like carrying—period! It’s weather-resistant (you shouldn’t drop it in a lake, but you don’t have to worry about early-morning mist), works in temperatures between minus-14 and 140 degrees F, and has its own rechargeable battery pack. With 200-channel memories (spaced 25 kHz apart), you’ll always have your familiar freqs available, and your favorite trips can be programmed into separate “banks” of 10 freqs each to keep them all together. Rugged, capable and small, it comes with a built-in speaker and mic (and also has a headset adapter), belt clip, charger, antenna and strap. List price is $430; look to pay around $325.
For more information, contact: Icom America, (800) 426-7983,

staying safeGarmin 96 & 96C GPS
Garmin has a lot of pages in its catalog, but for sheer handiness, it’s hard to beat the company’s affordable handheld GPS 96 and 96C (the color-screen version). Pull these babies out of your flight bag and you can use all the normal GPS functions, along with an HSI simulator. You can see what you really need: tracking, position and (ground) speed. You can easily calculate winds aloft and find active waypoints. The 96s are preloaded with the major highways of North and South America (the City Navigator North America, which includes just about everything, downloads for $140) and its plans are routable. So, it’s good for auto, aviation and even marine use (it even floats)! With a weight under a pound, 20 to 30 hours of life on two AA batteries (the color version has longer battery life), and a street price of about a hundred dollars less than the $499 and $599 list prices, the littlest Garmin aviators are a pair of good ideas.
For more information, contact: Garmin, (800) 800-1020,

staying safeMid-Continent Instruments Models 4300/4200
Mid-Continent Instruments offers a nifty pair of electric backup instruments: The 4300 “Lifesaver Gyro” has a three-inch display and an internal battery, and the 4200 “Mini Gyro” has a two-inch display. The larger 4300 has a lead-acid battery that provides power for up to an hour, including illumination. It’s continually charged in normal operation, and the push of a button will tell you the charge’s state. And if panel power is interrupted, an orange annunciator flashes to alert you of that. The “Lifesaver” has a slip-ball option, allowing you to also use the 4300 as a turn-and-bank substitute.

The “Mini Gyro” version is gaining acceptance in space-premium applications and now incorporated as a backup attitude indicator in high-line flat-panel installations by Avidyne/S-TEC (for the King Air 200 and Conquest 441) and Garmin G1000 (as used in its King Air C90 conversion).
For more information, contact: Mid-Continent Instruments, (800) 821-1212,,

Survival Products Life Rafts
Survival Products makes a line of unusual square-corner rafts, a design feature the company says makes storage easier and the finished product lighter, for any given capacity. The company uses high-quality materials to produce lower-cost rafts that will do the job for many fliers (depending on regulations and certifications, etc.). Other features, such as aluminum inflation cylinders rather than the oft-seen steel, also cater to owners of smaller aircraft. In June, a couple flying a rented C-150 in Hawaii “tested” one of the company’s four-man rafts and, predictably, informed the Honolulu Fire Department that they were happy with it! Survival Products, like many of the companies in this section, also provides a lot of other gear—from complete package to individual items—that can be stowed with your raft or used on the trail, in the unlikely event that you ever do anything but fly. Based in south Florida, they distribute worldwide.
For more information, contact: Survival Products Inc., (954) 966-7329,


Add Comment