A travel pole that can be taken into an aircraft cabin?

Firstly if its been answered in the past, apologies!

Esther (GI0AZA) and my good self (AZB) have always in the past travelled to GM, G and GW by ferry, leaving or retrieving MI6JHE from Uni and we have been able to try some activations on the way. All the usual kit goes in the jeep!

Now comes the ‘bird leaves the nest time’ and we fly in November over to Birmingham from GI land. Hire car will be used and we are for the first time taking the rucksack aboard the cabin. Ok I understand the rules on the size of bag and the rules around the radio gear and batteries, but my research so far hasn’t found an answer to whats available as an antenna support.

What do you guys and girls use by way of antenna support and if its a pole what size can be taken into the cabin with luggage? My antenna of choice is usually end fed or we can bring the linked dipole. I currently use a standard telescopic roach pole (7M) but that would be way too big for the cabin!

Any help would be appreciated, we have two weeks before we go :confused:


For sub alpine activations, I generally carry a miniature folding fishing pole about the size of a barbecue lighter and a slingshot, with some 550 Cord (fishing line is used to haul the 550 cord over a ~75ft tree branch), and am always mindful to bring my steel shiskebab skewer with a ground wire and ring terminal soldered onto it to bleed static from the 100w portable. I use an antenna that has DC continuity between the driven and ground via a hand wound 1:9 balun (shunted end fed wire), and connect the ground spike to the counterpoise lug on the antenna feedpoint. Alternatively, the ground spike can also be connected to the ground lug on the autotuner just in case it is impracticable to use the antenna feedpoint. For alpine activations, the heavily loaded whip style antennas might work out well for you, a buddy of mine runs a military man pack HF rig, and I have had quite a few nice qso’s with him on an off center fed dipole at the QTH - despite his sub optimal antenna.

The fiberglass tent poles might be worth a look as well, if you can find a ferrule/collet in a tent pole repair kit, you can daisy chain a few together to form a more rigid shape and use them in a similar manner to a telescoping pole.

If you can induct a private pilot to accompany you, and source the funds to acquire an aircraft, you can bring whatever you can fit as a carry on aboard the aircraft - to include lithium batteries, your sidearm, and isobutane canisters. Have fun, but most importantly don’t leave any critical mountaineering equipment to bring more comms gear!

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Asking your airline would be the best way to establish what you can carry. Some make exceptions for items such as poster tubes and fishing rods so you may be able to exceed the normal carry on baggage length. If not, a packed length of something over 55cm is possible remembering that you can use the size template diagonally.

That being said, the UK gov website says that fishing rods cannot be taken as carry on baggage Hand luggage restrictions at UK airports: Sports equipment - GOV.UK so describing it as a radio mast might be prudent to avoid them checking on fishing rods and applying that restriction.

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Hi ian,

I have two of these 6metre mini-masts that collapse down to a very small size (it will fit inside a walkers rucksack - not the mini rucksacks, a “normal” full back one):

I also have the DX-Wire 10 metre Mini-mast (also sold by SOTABeams I believe) but that one is twice as heavy and more expensive. Normally getting an inverted-V dipole up 5 metres off the ground works fine. The 10m pole is for when I put up a vertical antenna.

73 Ed.

I’m a regular flyer between G and GI, and on all the common carriers I use, FlymayBe and SLEasyjet, fishing poles are banned as carry on luggage.
I’ve ended up keeping poles in both countries to avoid any hassle.

Not an answer, although if you can find a local Decathlon (next door to City airport and one in Coventry) wherever you are travelling, then a 5m pole can be picked up for £5 which is basically a disposable product :wink:


Thinking getting one of these be easy to carry on the M/C


First trick is the pole not having to support any feedline. an EFHW with the end near the ground meets that requirement. Second is to realize that at QRP power levels very thin wire can be used without appreciable loss. I often use a telescoping fishing pole that collapses to just 19 inches. It is 17 feet long, but in practice bends such that only 15 feet high. Cost on EBay including shipping from China was under twenty dollars. Height doesn’t seem to matter in the least on mountain peaks. - Fred KT5X ( WS0TA )

I bought a short travel pole from SOTABeams. It’s not immediately to hand so I’m not sure of its length, but it fits in my luggage.

Gareth, M5KVK

There used to be no problem getting 5 and 6m telescopic fishing poles from eBay that would collapse to around 55/57cm. They do seem to thin on the ground now.

This may suit but the 5m is out of stock.


Similar but slightly smaller:


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I think everyone appears to be missing the point
The fact is, fishing poles are banned as carry on luggage.
The only way round this I see, is to disguise one as either a walking stick, a set of crutches or fabricate a pushchair from fiberglass rods and take a baby with you.


Hi Ian, unsure of who you are flying with, but last year I flew from Barra in the outer Western Hebrides back to Glasgow (and then caught a train back up to Oban to pick up the rental car - courtesy of a ferry strike that impacted our booked travel on the ferries).

The security people were not worried about the 10m SOTAbeams travel pole that I had as carry on luggage, although did insist on it being pulled apart so they could check I was not smuggling something within. All I can suggest is to check with the airline in question on their policy of what they allow to be taken as carry on luggage - and get that in writing to be able to display to the security people. It may be that you need to take one item of checked luggage instead?


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Hi Pete

Whilst carriers say fishing poles are banned the security staff employed by the airports do not know this. I have carried on in my rucksack a 57cm X 5m when extended fishing pole on numerous occasions and have never been challenged! I can only speak for Ryanair and Easy Jet. Jet 2 I have had hold luggage in which case the pole travels in a suitcase. I gave up using the long 7m poles that stick out of ones rucksack by two feet about 5 years ago. Too many questions asked by walkers and too many overhanging trees catched. Also very awkward when scrambling and quite dangerous in fact if the protruding pole clashes with rocks above your position as you move upwards.

My LiFePo4 batteries (4Ah and 7 Ah) are regularly scrutinised but have never been impounded either. IATA guidance info has been shown several times and always satisfies the staff, although occasionally they have to bring a manager in for the final decision or swab the battery. Too many scare stories abound on these issues it seems…

73 Phil

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I had the rubber duck for my handy selected for extra scruitiny at Dortmund back in August. Security there always seem to want to swab everything electronic in my suitcase, so I’ve not even bothered trying to take HF kit through, never mind anything like a mast…

The Mini telescopic fibreglass pole (4.1 m) sold by Sotabeams is 51 cm long and fits in most carry on luggage. The DX wire 10 m pole only fits in larger suitcases.

73, Hans PB2T

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The €32, 6m mast from LambdaHalbe collapsed is 57cm long and 38 mm diameter and weighs just 650 grams. This should fit in a “pilot case” sized case or bag. I always carry my poles in hold luggage. I find it’s less hassle than having to answer questions at security.

73 Ed.

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My guess is that Ian is looking at cheap (Ryan Air) flights from Belfast with no hold luggage. Hence the original question.

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To make it more complicated: fishing poles are not allowed in/as carry on luggage.

Agree Ed the pole is better in the hold, but I make 3-4 days trips to Eyrope from time to time using just cabin luggage - one rucksack containing all radio equipment and necessary clothing an dbasic tolietries for the trip so I don’t then have the luxury (and extra delay and cost) that a bag in the hold involves. Anything more than 4 days though and the hold luggage is necessary I find,in which case the travel pole goes in a suitcase.

73 Phil

Many thanks for all the replies, suggestions, links and off reflector messages, you are all a sterling support network of radio amateurs with loads of SOTA knowledge which I commend.
Yes our trip is only for two nights/three days and we have booked economy seats with the thought of using the carry on bag option for all the kit. Of course if the trip was for longer, which it will be in March 2017, much, much longer, the hold will take all of the sundry items. We actually don’t have light weight travel poles so this question and the answers have been invaluable. I have now ordered the said item and its been dispatched today so enough time for a test before this November trip to Birmingham :slight_smile: Of course as well as good sensible advice we had a chuckle at the comedy, obtaining a private pilot, with a side arm and disguised as a baby would be fun, well perhaps I’ve twisted the scenario a little! Anyway, from Esther and myself, thanks. We will blog on how it all goes. It is reassuring that air port security is on the ball or battery so to speak, even though the long walk to a scanner can be nerve wrecking!

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Maybe someone this side of the Irish sea could lend you a pole when you get here. :wink:

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