NORDO No More
I'm lucky to be here, I'll tell ya that. The other day, I just about fell out of the open door of the Cub, a mile south of the airport. For months, I've been fooling around trying to get a portable radio to work suitable for pattern communications, without success. I've been through two Icom VHF portables, various antenna connectors and finally, in desperation, a Sporty's SP400.
So I was testing it with a pattern entry call and a Baron 10 miles out—10 miles!—responded, asking if I'd be remaining in the pattern. I was so shocked I practically fell out of the door. Just to be sure, I called him back for a comm check. Loud and clear. Sounds great.
Having a working radio, I'm not ashamed to admit, makes for a better flying experience in the Cub. It's just more relaxing, if not necessarily for me, for those pilots who get nervous and irritated with a NORDO airplane in the pattern. NORDOs don't bother me in the slightest, but I understand why it makes others nervous, even if I think they're pretty high on the Aunt Jane scale. Throughout this long ordeal of sorting the radio, I could always listen—and did—only to hear other pilots commenting about that &^%$#(@ Cub with no radio. Now, they're all sweetness and light. They're right, too. It's just a beat safer if everyone has and uses a radio in the pattern.
Just for the record, our Cub has a properly installed antenna, complete with a regulation size metal ground plane and the coax and connectors are in good shape. Why the Icoms didn't work with it is a mystery, but I think it has to do with them being older radios whose components are degraded. The SP400 really packs some punch and delivers good RF and audio. It did, by the way, break, due to a corroded battery compartment. Sporty's fixed it and returned it within a week.
So, with a powerful radio at my fingertips—even got a push-to-talk on the stick—the other pattern dwellers are paying the price. Over the weekend, I was flying touch and goes to the grass adjacent to runway 5, which has left traffic. For some reason that escapes me, another pilot was doing the same, but flying right traffic to the pavement. Maybe this is my Aunt Jane threshold, but I found this utterly unacceptable. So I asked him to switch to left traffic, which he did.
So there. You give a guy a radio, expect consequences.