Emergency Power in Flight

As an avid pilot, I’m always looking for ways to increase flight safety.  A total electrical failure in IFR conditions is one of those emergencies that most of us hope to never experience.  However, with the advent of portable GPS units that incorporate excellent HSI representations and instrument approach waypoints, we today have some “outs” that were not available just a few years ago.  The key is to keep those items powered up and working after the electrons quit flowing from the alternator.  My solution is a simple, portable battery system that should be able to power my Garmin 295 GPS and a handheld radio for many hours (days?!), giving me triple redundancy:  The aircraft electrical, this backup battery, plus the batteries within the individual units.  Hopefully, by having this system available, my electrical system will never fail…Murphy will go elsewhere.  I consider it cheap insurance!


Complete setup (Click to enlarge)

The complete setup includes a small camera bag ($15), a 12v 7amp hr gel cell battery from Batteries Plus ($25), a Radio Shack 3-way accessory outlet ($10) and a Battery Tender Plus charger system ($50), plus a few dollars worth of clip connectors and heat shrink. So, for $100 (half that if you already have a battery charger you want to use…I just wanted the “smarts” of this unit) you have a great backup and a lot of peace of mind.


In the bag (Click to enlarge)

The whole setup can fit in the main compartment, although I am now putting the outlets in the front pocket area where it fits nicely. Only downside: The particular outlet has an LED system to let you know it is powered, which is probably a good thing, but means I can’t leave it hooked up all the time. I will have to slide the positive blade connection on when ready to use.


Ready to go (Click to enlarge)

It’s a compact setup that will easily fit in my flight bag. I will probably hang the strap over the seat back and let it hang down between the seats where I can reach it in-flight, or I will figure out some kind of Velcro arrangement to connect it to the base of the front seat.