Free HDTV with the Wingman

Posted In: "How To", Airstream, Blog, Product Review, RV Lifestyle, RV Products

If you are located anywhere near a city with TV stations, you can get free over-the-air broadcasts of HD programming from the likes of ABC, CBS, NBS, FOX, & PBS – plus scores of other channels. Adding a Winegard “Wingman” RV booster antenna to our 2003 Airstream’s existing antenna greatly improved the number of free stations we could receive. I love HD programming, and “free” is my favorite kind.

Over-the-air broadcasts are especially important for RV campers, since many campgrounds do not offer cable service. We don’t watch a lot of TV when we camp, but it sure is nice to have it when we want it. Just because we like to boondock and dry camp, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up my love of college football. When Alabama is playing, our antenna will be raised, and my eyes will be soaking up all the high-def goodness they can see.

With the Wingard RV Wing or "Wingman," we get much stronger HDTV signals in our RV. (Click the pic for more info.)

The RV Wing “Wingman” is a booster that connects to our existing TV antenna. We now get better HDTV signals in our RV. (Click the pic for more info.)

There are no downsides to this freebie. The quality of over-the-air HDTV signals is outstanding. The picture offers arguably better HD signal clarity than cable and satellite broadcasts. One analyst called it “one of the greatest free things we have left in this country,” and I do not disagree.

So what does the Winegard “Wingman” booster antenna bring to the table?

Our Airstream is a 2003 unit. It included a basic Winegard “Sensar” TV antenna on the roof. The Sensar is pretty much standard equipment in the RV industry. If you own an RV (especially one a few years old) with a TV antenna, this is probably what you’ve got.

Our 2003 antenna was produced prior to the big rollout of high-definition programming. It did a decent job with TV, but sometimes it would struggle with a digital signal. Signals were often weak, resulting in a choppy unwatchable broadcast.

Then we heard about the Winegard Wingman. This is a UHF booster antenna that simply clips on to the existing Sensar antenna. It installs in a couple of minutes (and the hardest part is probably getting onto the roof). The company claims it optimizes the existing Sensar for digital TV channels. They say it increases UHF performance “up to 100%.” For a moment, let’s graciously ignore the fact that “up to” clearly includes the number zero.

The real boost happens in the UHF range (channels 14-51). Sometimes the "Wingman" will help find TV channels we would otherwise miss! It's worked well for us.

The real boost happens in the UHF range (channels 14-51). Sometimes the “Wingman” will help find TV channels we would otherwise miss! It’s worked well for us.

We tried the Wingman – and it works! Our experience is that the Wingman booster antenna does indeed boost digital TV reception. After installing the Wingman device, we found ourselves receiving a few new channels that previously we had missed. Even with existing channels we began to get a much better signal, with fewer dropouts.

Campsite is set, skies are blue, and the big game is about to kickoff in FREE high-def. Life is good! (Click the pic for more info.)

Campsite is set, skies are blue, and the big game is about to kick off in FREE high-def. Life is good! And by the way, who are these people? (Click the pic for more info.)

I’m not sure what kind of antenna is on every RV in America, but most have the Winegard Sensar unit. If your RV is equipped with the basic antenna, the “Wingman” is a no brainer upgrade.


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