Accessories and Swag for Drone Pilots
Whether you fly drones as a hobby or commercially, spending money on drones usually leads to more spending more money on drone-related accessories. As with most things aviation-related, drones are machines that make holes in the air that their owners try to fill with money.
This page looks at some of the more popular drone-related apparel and accessories, along with my honest opinions as to whether they're worth buying or not.
High-Visibility Apparel and Safety Equipment
The FAA recommends that drone pilots wear high-visibility vests with writing on them warning onlookers not to distract the pilot while he or she is flying. These vests can also save your life if you're a commercial drone pilot who has to work along the shoulders of roads from time to time, and may be required when working on industrial sites. I think they're a necessity for most drone pilots.
Drone pilots who fly from the sides or shoulders of roads also need traffic cones to warn drivers of their presence. This is the law in some jurisdictions, and common sense anywhere.
Industrial and construction sites usually require that everyone on the site be wearing a hard hat that meets ANSI/ISEA Standard Z89.1. Commercial drone pilots should carry one around for when those kind of jobs come in. Recreational pilots probably don't need to.
Winter Flying Accessories
A good landing pad helps keep dirt and debris out of your drone and makes your landing site easier to find.
The FAA requires in FAR 107.29 that you attach an anti-collision light visible from at least three statute miles to your drone if you fly at night. This is not negotiable. If you fly at night, you need the light. (That's the extent of my poetic talent, by the way).
Another common-sense accessory if you fly at night is a flashlight with red and green light, either of which will help preserve your night vision while on a mission. Some people prefer red and some prefer green; so unless you know which color works best for you, I suggest you buy a flashlight with both red and green beams. I also suggest that you buy a flashlight with colored LEDs rather than one with separate lenses. The lenses are too easy to lose (and too hard to find) in the dark. Ask me how I know.
Another safety accessory to consider if you fly at night is red illuminated armbands or bracelets. I only recommend red for these because they can be bright and highly-visible to others without messing up your night vision. Red is also the color most associated with danger or hazards.
Finally, you may want to consider a battery-powered red flashing strobe to place on your landing pad to help you find it at night. Whether you need this depends on the kind of night flying that you do.
If you fly your drone in remote places where you have to hike to and from the launch site, you'll definitely want a good drone backpack. I strongly suggest that you buy a backpack with a wide, padded hip strap to take the weight off your shoulders, especially if you carry lots of spare batteries.
General Drone Pilot Swag
Revised September 10, 2022.