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We get it, landing could be one of your worst nightmares and could easily get on your nerves when flying. Whether you’re at the beach or in the mountains, you never know what you’ll get.
Especially when your aircraft is worth around $1,500 and represents a source of income on top of that.
Before ordering my first pad, I used to prepare the terrain like a total fool. I would put a towel, my drone case, or even an unsteady jacket and that’s it.
But hey, let’s face it – as in planes, the takeoff and landing is probably the most important step when flying a drone, so you want to make sure that your aircraft is launched in the best conditions so that the camera and sensors are well protected.
You certainly want to avoid having to use that pricey drone insurance, which by the way, I hope at this point you already have.
This article will discuss seven key points you might want to consider before buying your first pad, whether you’re a beginner, amateur, or expert.
But first, I would like to recall the fact that the point of having a landing pad is to protect your aircraft from external hazards that are out of your control.
For some people, it might seem a bit extra, but once you adapt it to your flights I’m sure you’ll find it indispensable**.**
1. Choose a landing pad that is easy to carry around #
Assuming you’ve got a Mavic Pro, Mavic Air, or any other DJI-friendly line, your drone probably weighs around 2 lbs, and with the firm case and extra batteries, probably around 4 lbs.
When you’re a filmmaker, pilot, or digital freelancer, the last thing you want is to have to carry big stuff that will probably keep you in a mood.
Make sure that the pad you chose can be compact and be carried around like a normal prop.
Believe me, you do not want thick materials that will only make your back hurt from how heavy they are unless you get an assistant to carry them out for you. (Poor intern!)
Most of the pads out there are designed to be enrolled inside to form a small circle, and most of them also come with a bag case, so it’s literally like you’re carrying a plastic bag.
I know people might be tricked into thinking that the thickest ones are probably the best ones, but it doesn’t matter how fancy they look, they’re not worth it, and the Amazon reviews have proven it.
2. Make sure the landing pad is TSA friendly #
Airport security is probably the biggest mess out there.
I’m not lying when I tell you that the last 5 times that I’ve passed through security I started getting anxious because I knew I was getting checked.
Even when you’ve done your research, you never know what new rules each country can suddenly have.
Having a drone with you gives you a 60% more chance of being stopped for a check.
The lithium batteries, the chargers, and the propellers are all sensitive topics and you probably know it.
Be careful that the material of your pad is friendly and does not include any component that could represent a threat or serve as a hazard, otherwise, security could take it away from you, or even worse, you can miss your flight!
Tip: Be sure to keep the original invoice of your aircraft with you when passing through customs. You’ll be surprised how many countries ask for that document. If printed, better. They typically want to make sure that the aircraft was bought in another country or if not, that you paid taxes for it. Also, I’ve heard some people are asked to show their FAA pilot ID, so come prepared. Remember, it is all about being cautious!
3. Size & weight matter #
The typical size of your pad should be around 20-21.65 inches, and it’s really important that it doesn’t get any larger than that since you’ll be carrying that too.
I’ve seen certain reviews on Amazon in which users were complaining about how weighty some pads were and how they weren’t able to fold them and store them in their bags, and just basically becoming a hassle and an inconvenience.
There are square pads out there, but I really only recommend a circular one.
DJI drones have a feature in which they can recognize the pad from above and enable the auto-landing function with the “H” sign, so if you really want to get the best of it, stop doubting and buy yourself the circular one.
If you’re an advanced pilot, you probably land the drone yourself. However, there are times in which either the device is running out of battery or hazards are making it difficult to land, so the pad helps.
Also, there are different colors for pads.
I’ve seen the color black as the background and all I can say is a big NO! The colors that the drone could easily recognize up there in the sky are orange and blue. (Green could also work.)
4. Look for a durable material that can protect the drone from natural hazards #
All of the scenic routes and landscapes in this world probably have long grass, dust, or sand, it’s part of what makes them beautiful and unique.
However, sand or long grass could seriously damage your camera, motors, and equipment.
Again, if you’re not insured (and even if you are), this could represent a big threat to your wallet. So every time you fly, make sure that the launch and landing area is well protected and that the wind does not represent a threat to you.
Especially, you’ll want to protect your drone motors as well as lenses.
Compact drones and the newest versions like Mavic Pro, Mavic Mini, and Mavic Zoom have a very small distance from the ground to the camera, filter, and lenses.
On many bumpy surfaces, the camera could even touch the ground. Also, the aircraft sips air into the motors to keep them cool. So it’s important to prevent dust from entering and creating a major issue that will obviously cost you money.
5. Night vision on the landing pad #
Just as the drone has night vision lights, some pads include these features too! This is an extra accessory you might not use, but if you find it helpful, go ahead and try it.
The most important thing to consider is that it’s always best to have full control of the landing, thus, demonstrating control to you.
Typically, pilots plan their takeoff and landing, so having this pad at night prevents you from hitting an unseen obstacle like a rock on the ground or any other hazard that you could not see thanks to the darkness.
This feature as well as the night lights of the aircraft will help your anxiety of losing your drone in the air.
6. Make sure it comes with sticks to make it stuck #
Make sure that whatever brand you choose to buy includes sticks.
This will not be helpful when taking off from hard surfaces like cement or ceramic floors, but if you’re going to the beach or an outdoor park with grass, these would help against strong winds and prevent the pad from flying away with the wind.
Also, these sticks are not heavy, so don’t worry about adding more weight to your bag.
7. Do you want to stand out? Look for a unique landing pad #
This tip is somewhat depending on what each pilot prefers. As you might know, some people wish not to be seen when flying.
There could be several reasons for that, one of them is being surrounded by crowds asking you questions about flying drones.
I bet you already know the typical “Is that a drone?” questions: “Does it have a camera?”, “What’s the maximum height distance?”, ”How much does it cost?”, etc. You name it, people love to stare.
So if you prefer to have a low profile, you can search for an understated pad instead, and that way you can pass a bit more unnoticed.
1. I’m searching for the Top 1 #
This helipad is probably the best option out there. Plus, it’s designed for RC drones and helicopters too.
Its size is 25x25x0.1 inches so it’s way bigger than the size of most any consumer drone.
Its value lies in its solid material, with a premium waterproof component made of PU PVC. This is important specifically because it will not be blown away by the wind and you don’t even need stakes!
And don’t worry, it’s lightweight and also stain-resistant.
It comes with a 12-month warranty so you’re covered in case something happens.
If you’re worried about its rectangular shape and large footprint, you can also fold it up and carry it with no issue.
People review it as a high-quality material pad and talk about its smoothness.
It comes in two color options: orange or grey, so it helps you to either go unnoticed when flying or to identify your landing zone from above.
Also, speaking about the brand, CYNOVA is an official DJI Partner so that also gives you an idea of its quality and the standards you’re paying for.
2. I’m on a budget #
If you’re looking to save money and still get a fantastic product check this one out.
Don’t worry about the price-quality relation, since it truly has everything I suggested: a circular shape, the stakes, a bright color, the “H” for auto-landing and it’s easy to carry around.
Great if you plan on traveling!
The two-side colors (Orange and Blue) help make the landing very visible and adapt the pad to each given situation.
Also, other reviews mention that its coil spring promises durability. Probably the bonus here besides the accessible price is the easiness of transport.
3. I do a lot of night flights #
This LED landing pad is truly amazing. If night flights were my thing, this would be my pick.
Compared to other brands, this CYNOVA pad does not need to manually install the lights and also has a cool and flat fit.
While other products from unknown brands are reported to represent a potential safety hazard with a thin cushion that’s easy to blow away, this pad offers you the safety of being waterproof, also PU PVC material mixed with leather and Neoprene.
You might think that thanks to the lights it would be difficult to carry but is not! You can fold it too with no problem. Its regular price is $42.99 but right now is only $33.14.
All the recommended landing pads are available through marketplaces such as Amazon.
Before making your decision, take time to read the reviews that customers post as well as images and possible complaints about the quality and size of the product.
It is important to also have a fabric warranty in case it arrives damaged. Just make sure that the customer service is good with the vendor you choose.
To conclude, I hope this article has given you a very detailed perspective on why is important to acquire a landing pad.
Remember that is not only about the image of having a fully equipped tool package for your aircraft and looking more professional when performing flights in front of clients, but also to protect the investment you made when you purchased your drone.
If you tend to fly in locations where you don’t need protection that’s valid! But just as in life, you never know where your drone might take you! So better to be fully prepared…
Flying safe and the feeling you get when things are under your control is incomparable!