In this article I’m going to share some of the best gifts for pilots I can find (and some I’ve even gifted).
For someone outside of aviation, shopping for the pilot in your life might seem a bit of a challenge. But here’s a secret—they like flying machines! So most of the gift ideas for pilots on our list are centered on those and the pilot lifestyle.
So while most gift buyers aren’t whipping out the latest edition of Trade-a-Plane to shop for their loved ones, there are all sorts of fabulous aviation gifts available online that feature aircraft of every description.
You can roughly break down pilot gifts into a few categories. For one, there are technology items and gadgets that they can use in the cockpit and crew lounge.
These gifts for pilots range from the most expensive high-end aviation headsets to simple things like battery chargers.
Then there are things that make their home life more aeronautically themed. Bar sets, wall art, and even airplane ties if your aviation bud is inclined to dress well.
Here are 26 aviation gifts that any pilot will love, including the best picks for tech lovers, pilot home decor, and lifestyle gadgets they can’t live without.
And if you’re looking for flight school graduation gift ideas, this list has some great recommendations as well.
Top 3 Things on my Pilot Gift List for 2023
As an airline pilot I’ve always got something sitting on my wishlist. While there are many excellent gift ideas for pilots on this list, here’s the top 3 things I want to get this year.
- Top 3 Things on my Pilot Gift List for 2023
- 9 High-Tech Aviation Gifts Pilots Will Love
- 6 Gift Ideas for an Epic Pilot Crashpad
- Personalized Airplane Ornament or Stocking
- 5 Best Gifts for the Pilot Lifestyle
- Best Aviation Gifts Under $50
- Aviation Gifts $50-$100
- Pilot Gifts $100-$200
- Pilot Gifts for $200+
- Book Gifts for Pilots
9 High-Tech Aviation Gifts Pilots Will Love
Very few pilots aren’t gadget nerds at heart. But shopping for tech gifts requires knowing your pilot’s cockpit habits well.
Many pilots buy what they need to fill their flight bags, so it’s possible that these things may already be in there!
Device Backup Battery
One of the handiest things a pilot can carry in their
They’re convenient for pilots since many older aircraft are not equipped with accessory outlets like cars are. They also make great gifts for flight attendants.
These batteries come in any shape and size you can imagine.
Some small plane pilots might be tempted to use Airpods under their headsets on long cross-country flights, but it’s the exception rather than the rule.
More accurately, pilots simply love the functionality of these Airpods for use during their downtime, hanging out in pilot lounges waiting for passengers to arrive or weather to clear up!
Foreflight – Top Gift for Pilots
If you’re looking for the most useful gifts for pilots, this is it.
You can purchase either a Foreflight Basic Plus plan or Pro Plus plan. Most of the students at our school go with the Pro Plus plan but the Basic plan will work as well.
If you’re buying for a brand-new student pilot an iPad is an excellent gift. They’ll use it extensively throughout their flight training.
There are countless helpful apps for flying (one mentioned below) as well as study aids that are all used best on the iPad.
The two biggest things to consider when purchasing an iPad for a pilot in training is the size of the iPad and cellular connection. The vast majority of pilots prefer the iPad Mini because it’s easier to use in the cockpit. We’ve surveyed our students and about 70% of them use the Mini.
The other thing to remember is that they’ll need the cellular-equipped iPad. You don’t need to have a cellular plan for the iPad, you just needs to be cellular equipped to work with the apps they’ll use in training.
Icom Handheld NAV/COM
But they’re great for day-to-day pilot life, too. Instructors love to use these so they can listen in on their students during those stressful solo flights.
In addition, they can usually receive the ATIS and weather broadcast a few miles from the airport, so pilots can tune into local conditions on the way to work.
Garmin D2 Air or Delta Smartwatch
Smartwatches are still catching on, but there are certainly some activities in life where these wearables are super handy. Of course, we’re all pretty familiar with how they’ve improved health and fitness. But some brands are making great strides in things like aviation, too.
The pulse oxygen sensor and barometric altimeter are especially welcome features on such a device. One word of warning, though—Garmin watches work best for pilots who already use Garmin products and the Garmin Pilot app on their mobile devices.
A New Headset
A more affordable option that’s incredibly popular with students is the David Clark H10 headset. It’s basically the Honda Civic of the pilot headset world. This headset has been tested extensively and simply works. There’s nothing complicated about it. It’s just a dependable headset that will handle the abuse a student pilot will probably put it through.
This is one of the most popular headsets for new pilots. Its lower price point and reliable performance make it an excellent option for any student pilot just getting started.
6 Gift Ideas for an Epic Pilot Crashpad
While those tech gadgets are all useful and cool, they lack the whim of a heartfelt gift for the home. Something is reassuring about receiving a gift that isn’t just about your job but is instead about making your life more fun and more comfortable.
Airplane Spotter Print
Help them decorate their hanger or home with these one-of-a-kind vintage airplane spotter prints. These posters are designed to look like the cards passed out during WWII to help people identify what airplanes were flying overhead. They’re popular gifts for pilots and make for a great gallery wall. Check out all of the prints here.
Personalized Airplane Hangar Sign
Help the pilot in your life decorate their hangar (or home) with a personalized hangar sign.
This 4″ x 18″ metal sign is a wonderful customized gift that can hang inside or outside.
Model of “Their” Plane
Every pilot needs a few models in their life. There are two routes a gift-giver can take.
Some are available with matching glasses, and there are multiple aircraft available inside the globe.
Replica Wood Prop
World Map and Scratch-Off Travel Poster
Wall Art Airplane Blueprint Poster
Personalized Airplane Ornament or Stocking
And if your shopping for a young aviation enthusiast, a personalized airplane ornament is the perfect aviation gift.
5 Best Gifts for the Pilot Lifestyle
Finally, here are some gifts for the lifestyles of the FAA certificated. These gifts are less expensive and are both practical and thoughtful.
Yeti Insulated Water Bottle
Staying hydrated during a flight is no joke. In hot environments, small planes are notoriously hot. When you get to altitude, the air is cool but much drier. Hydration is a safety issue for pilots.
Ray-Ban Aviator Sunglasses
Sunglasses make an excellent gift for pilots. Like the water bottle, they’re an item that every pilot needs. Like buying shoes, many pilots are fickle about precisely which styles and lenses they use during flight.
For more suggestions on sunglasses check out this post on the best sunglasses for flying.
Fisher Space Pen
Pilots take a lot of notes, and while electronics have filled new cockpits, many pilots still resort to the old-school pen and paper. But pilots often write in cramped spaces and at awkward angles.
TRX Exercise Kit
Unfortunately, many pilots find themselves living a more sedentary lifestyle than they’d like.
With all the long hours in small cockpits, fast meals on the go, and quick turns in strange cities, pilots can have difficulty finding time to work out. So packable workout kits are great gifts for pilots.
Leather Pilots Jacket
A high-quality leather jacket combines style, durability, functionality, and sentimental value, making it an excellent gift for pilots who appreciate both fashion and the aviation heritage.
It’s a gesture that not only keeps them warm but also warms their heart.
While high quality leather jackets are pricier, they will also last them for years to come and will come in handy on those cold flying days. This is truly one of the quintessential aviation gifts for him.
What are some of the best gifts for pilots you’ve seen? Share them in the comment section below.
Best Aviation Gifts Under $50
Aviation Gifts $50-$100
Pilot Gifts $100-$200
Pilot Gifts for $200+
Book Gifts for Pilots
- About the Author
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Liz Brassaw is a first officer for a regional airline and the former Chief Pilot and Chief Flight Operations Officer for Thrust Flight. She holds an ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI, AMEL, ASES with over 2,500 hours of flight instruction given. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the Utah Valley University School of Aviation Sciences. She’s passionate about flying and enjoys instilling that love in the instructors on her team and the new students she trains.