One of the best things about the iPad Mini is (obviously) its size. It’s not just that smaller is better–the Mini strikes the right balance of case size and screen size, especially for pilots. In particular, this is the first iPad that is small enough to mount on a yoke or suction cup without blocking a good chunk of the instrument panel. That makes it ideal for moving map displays, digital charts and in-flight weather.
In this article, we’ll review some of the most popular options for mounting the Mini. Each of the ones we’ll mention is made by RAM Mounts, who we think are the leaders in mounting technology. Their systems are rugged and durable, but almost infinitely adjustable.
All RAM mounting systems consist of three main parts:
- Base: the piece that attaches to the airplane (suction cup, yoke clamp, etc.)
- Arm: the piece that connects the ball on the base to the ball on the cradle
- Cradle: the piece that holds your iPad, and the products we’ll discuss below
Each of the cradles below is available with a variety of bases, so you could have a suction cup or yoke mount version of any of these. For tips on the best place to mount your iPad, read this article we wrote last year. Note that you can also switch between RAM Mounts quickly–if you have an older portable GPS mounting system from RAM, you would only need to buy a new cradle, for example.
Now let’s look at some cradle options.
For the smallest possible mount, RAM offers a custom-fit cradle that holds the iPad Mini tightly. RAM calls it the EZ-ROLL’R, and that’s because a clamp at the top of the cradle rolls over the iPad frame to lock it in place. It’s a rock-solid cradle, but it does not work with a case or smart cover, so you’ll have to remove your iPad from those first. These mounts are in stock and shipping.
These handy mounts are more flexible, and allow you to leave your iPad in a case when you mount it. These can also accommodate other 7″ tablets, like the Nexus 7. For these reasons, this is actually our preferred cradle. The spring-loaded top clamp expands from 7.3″ to 9.62″, and accommodates tablets up to 1.06″ thick (including case). Power buttons and charging connections remain uncovered for use in flight. These mounts are in stock and shipping.
These unique mounts are similar to spring-loaded mounts, but offer some quick-release features. Specially designed rubber pegs hold the tablet tight, and we haven’t seen turbulence affect this mount at all. To release, just squeeze two of the pegs together and the iPad will be released–it’s a refreshingly simple system. These mounts will accept iPads with a case on.
Not everyone likes to mount his iPad in the cockpit; some pilots are kneeboard people. For those folks, Sporty’s is also taking pre-orders for an iPad Mini Kneeboard. This bi-fold design is similar to the full size iPad kneeboard that has been one of the most popular tablet accessories for the past few years. It includes a leg strap, adjustable angle iPad stand, mesh pockets and small notepad alongside the iPad Mini.
Finally, while it’s not a mount, the iPad Mini Screen Protector is now shipping. This easy-to-install screen cover leaves no bubbles, and does not require messy glues or adhesives. It’s by far the most satisfying screen cover we’ve used, and a nice addition to any iPad Mini accessory kit.