In a very short space of time, drones have gone from being the secret weapons of spy agencies and the military to the hot new plaything of the weekend warrior. Now, photographers everywhere are using compact, radio-controlled quadcopters like those of the popular DJI Phantom Series to take spectacular aerial videos.
However, a quadcopter is not a toy; higher end models can cost thousands of dollars. Their odd size and shape and delicate parts can make them tough to fit into conventional luggage. Definitely not something you want to carry through airport security in a duffel bag.
So here’s a riddle: How do you fly a quadcopter without turning on the propellers? Answer: You pack it inside the new Think Tank Photo Airport Helipak and take it on a plane! Ahead of the curve as usual, the brain trust at Think Tank has responded to the increasing popularity of UAVs by creating a bag that’s tailor-made to carry a quadcopter like the Phantom 2 safely and comfortably.
The outside of the Airport Helipak is low-key and tasteful but rugged, made of tough polyester and ballistic nylon and treated with a durable, water-repellent coating to protect it from the elements. With exterior dimensions of 14” W x 20.5” H x 9” D or 35.6 x 52.1 x 22.9 cm, the Helipak is far more compact and convenient than the Pelican hard case I’ve previously used to transport my Phantom 2. Its light weight makes it a breeze to carry when traveling, and it fits easily into the overhead bins on planes. Furthermore, while the Pelican case can only be carried by its handle, the Helipak provides comfortable, padded shoulder straps and an adjustable harness so you can wear it as a backpack.
Inside, the case provides plenty of room for a Phantom 2 or similar quadcopter, as well as a remote, a 7” screen, accessories, and extra batteries, with space to spare (Interior Dimensions: 13” W x 18.8” H x 7.6” D or 33 × 47.8 × 19.3cm). A set of dividers specifically designed for the DJI Phantom Series permits you to customize the bag’s configuration to suit your gear, and internal, see-through mesh pockets in the case’s padded lid keep your rotors, spare parts, and tools secure, sorted, and readily accessible. The dedicated laptop pocket accommodates a 15″ Macbook Pro or equivalent notebook and features an adjacent organizer panel with sleeves for your cell phone, wallet, pens, and other small items.
Unlike a large Pelican case, the Helipak requires that you remove the quadcopter’s propellers so that the craft’s body will fit in the bag, which is a slight inconvenience. However, that’s a small price to pay given that the Helipak offers you more actual storage space than a comparable hard case in a compact size that is far easier to carry and stow.
An external side pocket capable of storing a 32-ounce water bottle and a seam-sealed rain cover make the Helipak as handy to have on the nature trail as in the airport terminal. So when you’re ready to take your photography to new heights, tuck your quadcopter in the Think Tank Photo Airport Helipak for safe-keeping and head for the skies. You’re cleared for takeoff!