Gift ideas for a pilot

Pilot Gift ideasI recently read Flying Magazine’s pathetic holiday gift guide and figured I would put together something a pilot would actually want or need.

I can’t remember the last time I made a Christmas list, which means I get complete surprises. Lucky for me, Alison has great taste.  But, if you are sick of getting underwear and random gifts pulled from the end of a Home Depot aisle, this might be your answer.  Hopefully if you send this list of ideas to that special someone, they can find a great gift idea on here regardless of their Christmas budget.  There are some great gift ideas on here for less than 30 bucks.

Flight Simulator Software and Accessories

If you aren’t able to get out and fly as much as you used to, or are in my situation where you have had over 2 weeks of 2,000 ft ceilings and snow; a flight simulator might be just what you need. Using a simple at home flight simulator isn’t a complete replacement for flying but it can certainly help you keep your skills sharp and provide some entertainment. Use your home simulator to practice VOR navigation, do some instrument and unusual attitude practice, you can even practice your radio communication in the comfort of your own home.  Save hundreds of dollars an hour and still get some flying in whenever you want.  I just started building my home simulator, I should have done it a long time ago.

A New Baseball Cap
Consider purchasing a hat supporting your favorite team: Piper, Cessna, Mooney, Beechcraft.

A Sharp Watch
Here are a handful of watches that any Aviator would love between $50 and $450. Well, any aviator that likes to wear a watch. And… likes to look awesome. If they don’t like those things, then any of the following would be a terrible gift.

Sun Glasses
It might be tricky to purchase for someone else, but a classic pair of aviators will always be in style.

ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot Subscription
If your pilot doesn’t already have a ForeFlight or a Garmin Pilot iPad subscription, why not hook them up with one. $75 – $150.

Handheld Aviation Radio
Having a backup radio on board can be useful should you lose power and your radio/nav comm.  $200+

gopro-pilot-camerasThe GoPro Hero 4 is now available and a host of GoPro accessories can help record air adventures. $10-$500
You don’t necessarily have to buy the best GoPro out there, buy something to get them started.  If they end up getting really into recording and editing their flights they are going to want multiple cameras.  When they buy their second one, it can be everything they want.

A Flash Light
If your pilot does any flying at night they will usually have a flashlight in their bag.  A new flashlight or ever some fresh batteries can be a thoughtful gift.

New Flight Bag
You don’t really need anything special, but having a bag designed specifically for aviation gear can have some perks.

iPad Case
Grifiti Dootle – $25 – I love this case for flying. It fits your iPad nicely on one side and has a pad of paper on the other. When open you can easily put it on your lap and run ForeFlight/Garmin Pilot on one side while having space to jot down weather, clearances, or any notes on the other side.

A good pilot is always learning and a great way to do that is through the experiences of others. These books are great for entertainment and education.

Audio Tapes 
There are opportunities to continue to learn and stay sharp while commuting to work or to the airport. Gleim has an audio bundle you can purchase and download to help you with your instrument rating that doesn’t suck.  It’s a bit expensive for some MP3’s, but if you are preparing for the written or just trying to knock some rust off it can be useful $70.

There are so many different options available and it’s really hard to pick out some options at varying price ranges.  Headsets are usually a personal decision and preference.  If you have someone starting their pilot journey they will be plenty happy with anything that they can call their own, and hasn’t been worn by hundreds of people over the last decade.  I am currently wearing the Bose A-20’s, but only because a friend of mine doesn’t need them right now. I usually wear the Rugged or  PA-1181 listed below, both are great and very reasonably priced. At some point I’ll buy an active noise canceling headset, but I’m not sure when.

Be careful just buying one of these for a pilot. You’ll want to specifically make sure you purchase one that is compatible with their setup.

  • Garmin GLO – $130 – Provide GPS coordinates to your iPad
  • Garmin GDL – $600+ GPS, Weather and ADSB-in (for your pilot that uses Garmin Pilot)
  • Stratus 2 – $900 – GPS, Weather, ADSB-in (for your pilot who uses ForeFlight)

Battery Backup
It’s not a bad idea to have a way to charge your phone or iPad with you in the cockpit.  You can never be over prepared.
Anker battery backup $26. Or the Mini for $17.

A New Tablet
I’ve heard some folks griping around the airport that their early generation iPad’s are struggling to load and run the latest versions of ForeFlight.  Perhaps a new iPad Mini, iPad Air or Android Tablet would look good under the Christmas tree.

Remote Control Toys
If your pilot loves flying big airplanes they are going to love to flying small airplanes too.  There are some very reasonable fixed wing RC airplane options for goofing around in the back yard to commercial grade quadcopters that can be used for shooting movies in 4K.

  • RC Super Cub RC Airplane – $90
  • Parrot makes some great quadcopters starting around $300. AR Drone 2.
  • This quadcopter is amazing, this is usually what is being used in most of the YouTube “drone” videos you are seeing of people flying around a city. Phantom. $1,000+

And a couple of other ideas

Have some additional ideas, leave a comment.  Want to get notified of future posts? It’s just one click away.