Human Journey

10 Essential Accessories for the Drone Traveler

The latest in the Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series, in which Kike profiles interesting information, research and thoughts on using drones, UAVs and remotely piloted vehicles for journalism and photography.

As the sUAV industry keeps on growing, drones are becoming ubiquitous tools for photographers, journalists, travelers and explorers. The following is a list of essential items every drone pilot should have.

National Geographic Creative photographer Kike Calvo testing some gear in Madrid for his book So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones. Photo © Nano Calvo


1. Remote Control Wind Protection: Allows you to operate your remote control in cold and windy environments, making it possible to fly in difficult weather conditions. It will also help to avoid the rapid discharge of the battery.

RC Cold Hands


2. Portable Solar Recharging Kit: You can directly charge your smartphone in about an hour. It comes with a USB Power Pack to charge AA and AAA rechargeable NiMH batteries. Full charge will allow you to recharge your phone 1-3 times per charge. It also works with iPads and other tablets.


3. Personal GPS Tracker: Track your drone via web or smartphone app anywhere GSM 2G cellular reception exits. Highly accurate current location and one year of history. First year is free, and then a low fee is charge after the 12-month period included is over. Besides tracking your drone, you can add a luggage tracker to your list. It allows you to check to see what city your luggage is in and help find it in case it gets lost.
Personal tracker
4. Airflow Meter: Using an app for your smartphone, the environmental meter connects using Bluetooth. The ABM sensors allow you to accurately measure and record temperature differential, wind speed and direction (gusts), air density, barometric pressure, relative humidity among many other things. The meter is built inside a ruggedized housing.


5. Logbook: Its is essential to keep detailed record of all your flying missions, regardless of your flying experience. It provides an easy way to keep track of all your Lipo batteries. A classic Moleskine Notebook could work and in fact, there is no need for this logbook to have a whiff of adventure. But what is truly important is that it has been designed to be compliant with Federal Aviation Regulations, COA and Section 333 Exemptions.



6. Book selection: Every drone pilot library should include at least two of these publications: Getting Started with Drones, So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones , Drone Entrepeneurship or Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them.


7. Shoulder Strap Belt Sling: For those of us who may spend long hours out in the field flying, ergonomics becomes a priority. This shoulder strap helps ease the pressure to the cervical vertebra.

8. Monitor Sunshade Hood Cover: Fits on popular cellphones, and its perfect to remove glare from your phone when flying FPV. If you use a tablet, there is a larger model. Both include multiple tiny suckers to keep the device in place.

9. Indoor training mini quadcopter: If the weather is not right to fly outdoors, it is a great idea to have a small copter for indoor use and training such as the Hubsan X4 or the X4 with FPV, that provides live video from a distance of around 100 meters.

Training Drone

10. Notepad: A pocket –sized notebook to take notes on the field, write ideas that may arise while on the road, remark on incidents or just to keep information from people you may meet while on your mission. The notion of journaling (logging your life) but applied to your drone projects and travels.
Note pad
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Learn more:

. Top 10 Drones for 2016: The Beginner’s List
So You Want to Fly Drones?
. So You Want to Shoot Aerial Photography Using Drones?
So You Want to Backup Your Aerial Footage Taken from Drones?
So You Lost Your Drone Again?
So You Want to Fly an FPV Racing Mini Quadcopter?
So You Want to Keep Track of All Your Drone Flights?
So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones?  (New Book)

Popular minicopters and drones include:

DJI Phantom 3 with 4K camera

DJI Phantom 3 with 1080 camera

DJI Phantom 2 Vision

DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-3D 3-Axis Gimbal

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

3d Robotics Iris+ Multicopter 915 Mhz 3DR IRIS+

DJI Inspire 1

Parrot MiniDrone Jumping Sumo

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite Edition Jungle

Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider


Walkera QR LadyBird V2 Mini

Hubsan SpyHawk FPV RC Plane

Badboy Quadcopter With Camera

The New Hubsan X4 H107L

MaxSale Hubsan X4 H107C 2.4G 4CH RC Quadcopter With Camera Mode 2 RTF




Award-winning photographer, journalist, and author Kike Calvo (pronounced key-keh) specializes in culture and environment. He has been on assignment in more than 90 countries, working on stories ranging from belugas in the Arctic to traditional Hmong costumes in Laos. Kike is pioneering in using small unmanned aerial systems to produce aerial photography as art, and as a tool for research and conservation. He is also known for his iconic photographic project, World of Dances, on the intersection of dance, nature, and architecture. His work has been published in National Geographic, New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair, among others. Kike teaches photography workshops and has been a guest lecturer at leading institutions like the School of Visual Arts and Yale University. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic blog Voices. He has authored nine books, including Drones for Conservation; So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones?; Staten Island: A Visual Journey to the Lighthouse at the End of the World; and Habitats, with forewords by David Doubilet and Jean-Michel Cousteau. Kike’s images have been exhibited around the world, and are represented by the National Geographic Image Collection. Kike was born in Spain and is based in New York. When he is not on assignment, he is making gazpacho following his grandmother’s Andalusian recipe. You can now buy Kike´s products: You can travel to Colombia with Kike:

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