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All remote drone pilots should consider these accessories for their flights

2024 June 12
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Drone operators, whether they’re flying recreationally and for fun under the rules of Section 44809 or commercially and for hire under the rules of Part 107, have similar duties to ensure a safe drone flight. After all, it doesn’t matter what the purpose of your flight is, you’re still sharing the airspace with fellow pilots and remote pilots.

Part of ensuring safe flight is to kit yourself out with the essentials so that you’re prepared in every situation. That’s why in this piece, I’m going to use my personal experience as a Part 107 remote pilot to recommend a handful accessories that will benefit your drone flying experience.

Everything I’m about to recommend is something that I currently use or have used on previous flights. So, keep in mind that this list will only include tried and true products… not blind recommendations.

Generic accessories every drone pilot should have

This section will discuss accessories that can be used with any drone brand, regardless of shape and size.

Hoodman Weighted Drone Landing Pad

Hoodman drone landing pad.

A good drone pilot knows that drone propeller blades can and will kick up dust and debris from the ground, which can clog and harm the small tolerances in the drone’s electric propeller motors. For this reason, you want your launching and landing surface to be as sterile as possible.

I strongly recommend these Hoodman weighted drone landing pads. They’re pricey, but they’re the best ones; bar-none. They have weights in the collapsible outer ring that prevent wind from lifting your landing pad, and the material is incredibly heavy duty – no worries about tears or Sun damage.

When you’re ready to take your landing pad with you, is collapses in three ways into a small dinner plate-sized circle that stuffs into an included bag with a shoulder strap.

Hoodman’s weighted drone landing pads are available in 1.9, 2, 3, 5, and 8-foot variations. I find that the 3-foot landing pad is the sweet spot for DJI Mavic-sized drones, and you might be able to get away with a 2-foot landing pad if you use a mini-platform drone. Using anything bigger? You should probably get a larger landing pad.

Available starting at $34.99 from Amazon with free Prime shipping.

Firehouse Technology Arc-V Strobe Light

Firehouse Arc-V Strobe Light.

Flying during civil twilight hours – 30 minutes before sunrise or after sunset – or at nighttime requires following specific rules. One of those rules includes equipping your drone with a strobe light that flashes frequently enough and that can be seen from 3 statute miles away as to avoid a collision.

The Firehouse Technology Arc-V strobe light checks all the boxes and is super lightweight as not to affect the flight characteristics of your drone. You can attach it with Velcro, or you can buy a super fancy 3D-printed mount to place it at the top of your drone.

These strobe lights run for up to 4 hours and emit an eye-searing 1,000 lumens of light that can be seen from 4 statute miles away. An included remote control also makes toggling the strobe and controlling it even easier.

Available for $35.99 from Amazon with free shipping.

Reflective High-Visibility Drone Pilot Vest

Reflective Drone Vest.

Sometimes people aren’t kind to drone pilots. People have this strange idea that the entire world is their private sanctuary and that no one should be able to fly anywhere near them. But this simply isn’t the case. Maybe it’s because people feel like they’re being spied on? Is there something you can do to make your presence better known?

The FAA thinks (and we tend to agree) that wearing a high-visibility vest like this one can help mitigate encounters. While it makes it obvious what you’re doing, the good thing about that is you look like you’re on duty for professional work and people are less likely to think you’re up to no good.

More importantly, since it’s considered a federal offense to disturb a licensed pilot or their crewmembers while underway, it’s a good idea to let people know that you are one. These protections extend to drone pilots, so wearing a vest may serve as something of a deterrent so people will leave you alone and let you go about your business.

Available starting at $19.99 from Amazon with free Prime shipping.

SanDisk Extreme microSDXC Cards

SanDisk microSD cards.

If you’re going to do any sort of video recording, then you need storage, and you should strive to get reliable storage at that. Drones operate at high altitudes where there’s less atmosphere to shield them from the Sun, so they can get warm fast. That said, SanDisk’s Extreme line of microSDXC cards are up to the task.

I recommend at least a 256GB microSDXC card, but a 512GB microSDXC card is probably more than enough for most people. These aren’t that expensive, and they ensure that you’ll be able to film 1080p or 4K video with no hiccups so that you can edit your video later without any problems.

Keeping backups is very important too. If you fill up a microSDXC card, then you’ll be scrambling to offload it or find another one to use in that event. So consider picking up more than one.

Available starting at $11.27 from Amazon with free Prime shipping.

Pelican Pluck Foam Case

Pelican Pluck Foam Case.

Your drone is an expensive investment, so you should do your best to protect it. I can think of no better case to do that than something like a Pelican 1560 with Pick N Pluck foam, which lets you effortlessly size the interior to the shape and size of your drone, remote controller, and other accessories.

These cases are rugged enough that you can park a truck on them, yet they’re lightweight, watertight, and keep the dust out. Each one also has its own automatic pressure equalization valve to release built-up air pressure that occurs from changing temperature and atmospheric conditions. What’s more is you can lock these causes with two padlocks to keep people out of your stuff.

Pelican boxes aren’t cheap, but neither is your drone. Keep it protected with the peace of mind that you can only get from a trusted brand such as Pelican and you won’t have to worry about damage later down the road.

Available starting at $243.85 from Amazon with free Prime shipping.

Specific accessories every remote pilot should have

This section will discuss brand-specific accessories every drone pilot should have.

Spare propellers

Drone spare propeller kit.

Every drone pilot, regardless of what brand you’re flying, should keep spare propellers on hand. As the single-fastest moving part on any drone, propellers are the first things to wear out, and they often break when you crash your drone.

I only have experience with DJI-brand drones – specifically, the Mini Pro and Mavic 3 series, but this rule applies to all drone makes and models. Regardless of what you’re flying, be sure to buy OEM propellers and not aftermarket, as you want the quality of materials to be there to avoid potential mid-air mishaps.

In the case of my Mini and Mavic series drones, I’m comfortable recommending DJI replacements.

Spare batteries

DJI Mavic 3 battery.

You’re sure to blow through battery packs during a day of drone flying. Each one lasts anywhere from 20-40 minutes, depending on your flight habits, so you should certainly pack more than one.

Two batteries will be enough for most people, but I always like to carry three. Two ensures that one can charge while you use the other, but if you don’t want to carry a charger with you, then three batteries will lend anywhere from 1-1.5 hours of flight time without hindrance.

Again, since I only have experience with DJI-brand drones – specifically, the Mini Pro and Mavic 3 series, I can only personally hand recommendations for products that work with these models. You will need to do your homework if you use something else, but the general rule of thumb is to use the OEM option for whatever you’re using instead of aftermarket because the battery is literally the beating heart of your drone mid-flight.

ND Filters

Drone ND filter kit.

Anyone who captures a lot of video with their drone knows how important it can be to have ND filters. These attachments for the front of your camera lens work to reduce the amount of light that enters your camera so that you can keep using wide aperture and ideal frame rates.

ND filters vary greatly between drone models, as cameras are often the distinguishing factor between said models. That said, this is a very subjective topic that requires careful research about the drone you’re buying for.

In my case, I’ve only ever used ND filters on a DJI Mavic 4 Pro, so that’s what I will link to below. But I recommend using either OEM or high-quality aftermarket ND filters for whatever drone you might be flying.

DJI Mini 4 Pro ND filters set – available for $55.00 from Amazon with free Prime shipping.

Wrapping up

Is this everything that a remote pilot will ever need when flying their drone for fun? Probably not, but it will cover the bases of most ordinary flight types. Remote pilots should consider every circumstance they may encounter as a part of their pre-flight check to ensure they arrive at the launchpad prepared for any situation.

What accessories do you take with you when you fly your drone? Be sure to let us know in the comments section down below.

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