FRS and GMRS Radios
Popular but crowded
Previously, the powered paragliding community mostly used FRS and GMRS radios which operate on the UHF band. However, 2 Meter HAM Radios are becoming the standard. Most FRS and GMRS radios are inexpensive. However, because they require no licensing, they can be crowded near populated areas or parks. Sub frequencies may have less traffic.
Purchasing a cheap FRS radio could mean throwing money away. Some are effected by ignition noise making them unusable. Amoung the better radios are the Garmin Rhino series and the higher end Midland radios, our current favorites in this category.
2 Meter HAM Radios
No crowds, but requires a ham license
Paramotor pilots are switching away from FRS and GMRS to the 2 meter VHF Amateur Band Ham radios. Most free flight pilots already use the 2 meter band. And because these radios require a ham license in the United States, the frequencies have far less traffic. 2 meter radios also seem to be less effected by ignition noise, but stay away from digital radios. The expensive complicated digital radios tend to be more effected by ignition noise. The down side of 2 meter is greater cost and inability to communicate with paramotor pilots using FRS and GMRS. However, that problem goes away with multi band radios that have both 2 meter and FRS and GMRS frequencies.
The Yaesu FT-270 and FT-250 have been the work horses of the paragliding and powered paragliding. These are single band radios with Nickle Metal Hydrid batteries. The FT-270 is waterproof and one of the most rugged radios in its class. The Yaesu VX-6R is a multiband radio with a lithium ion battery, but a much bigger price tag.
Baofeng is the new kid on the block and their radios have taken the market by storm, offering excellent features at a fraction of the price of Yaesu. For these reasons, the Baofeng UV-82 HP is now our current favoriate 2 meter radio. The Baofeng UV-5R, an earlier version, is still popular but from what we can tell, the newer UV-82 HP is better.
Multi-band radios offer both UHF and VHF bands. Before purchasing, check the specifications. Some radios may appear to be multi-band but do not transmit on all frequencies.
The Yaesu VX-6R was the top multi-band but now Baofeng offers the same features at a much lower price. The Yaesu VX-8R is a digital radio, not a good choice for paramotoring. The tiny Yaesu VX-3R works well even though it has less power. The Yaesu FT-60 multi-band has not proven to be as reliable.
The connector for the Yaesu FT-250, FT-60 and VX3R is a 1 pin push in type, no threads like the FT-270 and VX6R connector. This no thread connector tends to disconnect and for that reason, we do not recommend the Yaesu FT-250, FT-60 and VX3R.
Expensive, and limited use, requires Deluxe Com System
Some new pilots believe they need an aviation radio. While some countries require them, in the United States, aviation radios are rarely used by powered paraglider or paraglider pilots because ultralights generally do not fly in controlled airspace associated with airports: Class B, Class C, and Class D. Check out the Airspace DVD for more info. If you are outside these areas, air traffic control (ATC) would prefer not to hear from you. If you do want to fly in these areas, you will need prior permission from ATC and usually an aviation radio. Because aviation radios are AM instead of FM, they require a microphone amp. The Deluxe Com PPG Helmets has this mic amp feature. The Standard Coms do not and will not work with aviation radios.
In the comparison chart below, we did not rate aviation radios. However Icom and Yaesu are the leading brands.