Okay, please forgive the geeky review, but I love handheld aviation radios, and Sporty’s latest one, the PJ2, is the cat’s pajamas (get it?). Here’s why.
I forget when it was or, to be honest, exactly what airport it was even. It was in the Central California Valley and the Unicom was closed already with plenty of summer daylight left. A Mooney flew by low as we watched from the ramp and wagged a wing at us. Then he did it again. I ran to the plane and grabbed the handheld radio I always keep in my bag, dialed up 122.8 and hollered, something to the effect of, “Hey, Mooney, you got a gear issue?” They did. On the next flyby, we were all eyes on the gear, which was down and seemed to be equally and fully extended. We pilots agreed. I radioed back to the Mooney pilot, he landed and the gear stayed put. Phew.
I’ve used my handheld a handful of times and always when I least expected to need it.
Sporty’s new PJ2 is powered by six double-A batteries, a big pile of which I keep in my Flight Outfitters flight bag, as well. So when you need it, it’ll probably be good to go. And if not, throw some new batteries at it, and now you’re talking.
Unlike some of Sporty’s other really cool offerings, the PJ2 is just a comm radio. Well, WX too. But no nav. So if you’re looking to shoot an ILS with a handheld, this ain’t the ticket. For that I’d recommend Sporty’s super cool SP400, on which I’ve flown a few ILSes, not in anger, but for testing and for fun. It works great.
When you need something portable and VHS, chances are it’s because you need to talk to someone. My iPad with my favorite navigation app will do the nav thing really well, thanks. Talking with the folks in the tower? Not so much.
The PJ2 is light, it’s easy to use, and this is the killer part of it…it uses standard headphone jacks. Just plug in your Bose or David Clark, and you’re good to go. It’s got a handy push-to-talk, easy-to-dial frequencies and a flip-flop frequency switch you can find in the dark. Sound quality is good, it gets loud enough you’d be able to hear it in a Cessna 150 if hard pressed, and it’s affordable. At $199, it’s a great insurance policy. As they say, you won’t need it until you do. Then you really will.
The PJ2 is available from Sporty’s Pilot Shop at sportys.com. It sells for $199.