Are you looking to find the perfect gift for a close friend or special someone and have no idea where to start?
How about if that close friend or special someone is a pilot? Do you know where to even begin looking?
This isn't an easy feat as most of us are not used to the world of aviation so it can be a difficult place to navigate.
Whilst we expect you are not in the market to buy a helicopter or seaplane, we can offer you some great ideas that are practical and fun that cover a wide range of ideas.
Best Gifts For Pilots
OUR TOP PICK
One of the most useful devices a pilot can carry on their person is going to be a backup battery for their electronic devices.
This is because many of the older aircraft do not have the capabilities that allow for accessory outlets, unlike a car does.
The Anker Portable Charger is a compact solution that fits into your pocket and gives enough juice to recharge all of your gadgets up to three times over without having to remove them from your flight bag.
Although some reviewers have noted that some devices can take longer to charge than others.
- Compact solution for charging small devices.
- Charges most devices quickly.
- Sleek and smart design.
- Reviewers have noted that some devices may take longer to charge.
Speaking to many pilots over the years, many of them claim that nothing beats flying in the sky than with a nice cup of coffee to accompany the experience.
This machine is perfect as it doesn't require electricity or batteries, instead, all you need to do is add hot water and use the piston to pump out a cup of coffee.
It's easy to use and is probably the best portable solution for making a cup of coffee in certain conditions.
One thing to note is that the material isn't the best and it will feel like you are drinking from a plastic cup which some may be put off by.
- Lightweight and easy to carry with you.
- Doesn't take a lot to learn how the device works.
- Saves on electricity and doesn't need a battery change every 2 weeks.
- It does feel a bit cheap and some won't enjoy that it feels like drinking from a plastic cup.
Now that we've given a great option for those that enjoy a coffee on their flight, how about an accompanying mug?
This classic tumbler will be able to put the biggest smile on the face of any budding pilot.
This is a cheap and cheerful option that would make a great stocking filler or small gesture that isn't going to break the bank.
It comes in a selection of colors, from black to pink, or seafoam green, and does a good job of keeping coffee nice and warm.
One downside is that the handle feels a bit flimsy and can be prone to breaking.
- A cheap option that would make a great stocking filler or budget gift.
- Strong and sturdy design.
- Comes in a few different colors.
- Doesn't have the strongest handle which may be prone to breaking.
If you know a pilot that likes to read, why not treat them to a Kindle Paperwhite?
This waterproof, portable device is a game-changer for book readers that want to carry hundreds of their favorite books without all the carry-on weight.
The long-life battery will guarantee weeks of reading which is ideal for those long-haul flights.
Although getting used to the interface can be tricky for newcomers to the Kindle line, it will take some practice to be able to use it effectively.
- Waterproof and portable make this a stellar gift idea.
- You can save on carry-on weight and leave the heavy books behind as this stores an entire library.
- Comes with a long-life battery that will last for weeks.
- Takes some getting used to and the interface is not the most user-friendly.
We touched on buying your pilot pal a Kindle so they can read all of their latest novels and store them in one place.
But how about getting them a book with their Kindle?
Or perhaps the paperback, as this book is a helpful guide to teaching maneuvers for the budding pilot.
It's a clear guide and will prove extremely useful for a new pilot or flight instructor looking for ways to explain every maneuver.
Although this may just be an interesting guide for more experienced pilots that are already well versed in aviation.
- A great entry-level guide for budding learner pilots or flight instructors.
- Easy-to-understand instructions and images will help break down complicated moves.
- A great guide for creating custom lesson plans.
- It will be more of an interesting read for more experienced pilots and they may not learn anything new.
What better way to light up the night than with LEDs?
This is a unique pendant that will allow pilots to see what is going on around when it gets dark out.
Available in three sizes (16", 20" & 30") this would make a fantastic desk accessory or even decor piece.
The brushed aluminum finish adds to its chic look while the included battery lasts nearly 10 hours.
It also has four mounting holes which allow users to attach it to a variety of surfaces.
Though don't expect a high-end pen made from the best material, as it's still a budget design.
- Great choice for displaying at home or work.
- Despite the material used, it still has a classy design.
- The battery life is decent and will last a long-haul flight.
- Feels cheap and you can tell when using the pen.
Every pilot needs a decent watch, and the smartwatch is starting to overtake the classic timepieces for many pilots looking to maximize how much data they can record.
The Garmin Venu 2 is a compact fitness tracker that comes with a heart rate monitor, altimeter, barometer, and compass.
It also features sleep tracking that allows you to wake up at the perfect time each morning.
With a 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer this watch does an excellent job of recording your activity levels.
It connects over Bluetooth 4.0 and can sync with your smartphone via Garmin Connect.
We've noted many reviewers saying the screen protector is unusable which may affect your purchasing decision as this comes with the protection bundle.
- Easy to use and connect through Bluetooth 4.0.
- Great workout companion that tracks everything you do.
- Features a number of features to help you keep on track of your health.
- The screen protector may cause issues if removed.
Reusable and insulated water bottles are one of the most underrated items for a pilot. They can keep liquids, warm or cold, and can help a pilot live more sustainably without too much hassle.
The S'Well water bottle is a great companion that allows for ease of use that will slot nicely into a flight bag.
This stainless steel model holds up to 16 ounces so you can take along enough liquid for a long journey. Its BPA-free plastic lining ensures that no harmful chemicals are added during production.
You'll find the top opening easy to open and close, too. Just be wary of keeping liquids in for too long as it can leave a musty smell.
- Easy to use, and the opening and closing aren't difficult.
- Stainless design is classy and will feel like a high-end product.
- The copper wall layer eliminates condensation that doesn't sweat externally.
- Too much use can leave a musty smell.
Who doesn't want to feel like they are a character from Top Gun?
These aviator sunglasses by Ray-Ban feature gradient lens technology that lets light pass through evenly across the lenses. The result is a smooth transition between colors.
One of the most stylish sunglasses designs out there; no other pair makes you look the part of the pilot than the Aviators.
Just be wary that they are very easy to snap and don't have the longest shelf life compared to other brands.
- Stylish and classic that any pilot will appreciate.
- Gradient lens technology allows for a smooth transition between colors.
- Great for flying and recreational occasions.
- Prone to snapping and doesn't have the greatest shelf life.
As a little twist on the end, we decided to add in a charming option that would go down well with any pilot.
Gifting them their own model version of the plane that they can build (see also "How Long Does It Take To Build A Plane?") and paint would be a welcoming gift.
Or perhaps even their dream plane if they already own their own model.
We've included a link to the B29 Superfortress as it's one of our favorite models, but obviously change this depending upon their own model!
However, maybe skip this option if they have the model plastered all over their home!
- A simple gift, yet will make any pilot happy.
- Can choose options that require building and painting.
- Most models are available on the market.
- Not a great idea if they already have the model!
Best Gifts For Pilots Buying Guide
Now that we've got some ideas for gifts, it's time to make the difficult decision and narrow down the list to a few suitable options that your pilot will love.
This can be easier said than done, so stick around as we break down the easiest way to make the best choice.
To make this process easier, we recommend that you bring the list down to around 2-4 options that your pilot would get the most benefit from.
This will make the process a lot easier for you, and stop you from becoming overloaded with too many ideas. Which is just as bad as not having any ideas, to begin with.
With your 2-4 options in mind, here are some of the factors to consider when making a purchase.
These are listed in no particular order, but you can go through the list one by one if you want to make things easier.
You need to define how much you are going to spend on your gift because the options above can range anywhere from $20 to well over $1,000.
The question of budget usually comes down to why you are buying the gift and who you are purchasing the gift for.
Perhaps you have a significant other who has a milestone birthday approaching and you want to treat them with something that is going to be memorable.
In this instance spending more is likely going to be justified.
Whereas something that is cheaper could be reserved for a friend-of-a-friend or distant relative who you need to get a Christmas gift.
In this case, don't feel bad about going budget and picking something that might seem more gimmicky, as we wouldn't ever expect you to pay over $1,000 for a second cousin (unless you want to of course!)
Practical Versus Memorable
Obviously, every gift we want to get someone wants to be the greatest gift of all time, but sometimes you need to consider whether something for or something useful is needed.
This can ultimately come down to the pilot. Some pilots may already have a fully kitted out flight bag with a water bottle, travel coffee, and smartwatch, and so burying another one of these might end up being a waste of money.
They might find more joy in something simple like a model airplane that would look good in their home office.
Or perhaps you have a friend that has recently earned their pilot's license.
They might not have a bag full of goodies that they can use on long-haul flights, so a travel gift would be ideal for them.
This category is considered for how long the pilot intends to fly for, how experienced they are, and how much they are going to fly, as every pilot is built differently.
What we mean by this is how likely they are to need something if they don't intend on flying that much. A weekend pilot who just wants to fly privately is probably not going to need all of the travel gadgets under the Sun.
Whereas a commercial pilot who consistently makes long-haul flights every single week could benefit from a gadget or health item.
Ultimately context is key when it comes to gift-giving for a pilot. And whilst many of the factors above can help you with your shopping, knowing your audience is going to be where the battle is won or lost.
If you know your pilot is an avid traveler then you should be able to easily pick out something that will last him or her a lifetime.
If he or she is new to aviation then maybe go with something a little simpler that will still give them a great experience.
Whatever you do make sure you're giving them something that will make them smile while they fly!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does A Pilot Cost?
A pilot can vary greatly depending on what type of aircraft they operate.
For example, a private pilot operating a Cessna 172 will typically cost around $10,000 - $18,000 per year.
However, a commercial pilot operating a Boeing 737 costs between $50,000 - $80,000 per year. However, there are also some very expensive pilots.
For example, a military pilot can cost upwards of $100,000 per year. These figures include salary, training, and equipment.
Is It Possible To Create A Gift For A Pilot?
Yes, absolutely! There are plenty of options available. You can either choose to purchase a pre-made gift such as a watch or a pen, or you can create your own gift.
If you're looking to create your own gift, there are plenty of items that you can add to.
Or, you could simply add a personalized message to a gift card. This way, you're sending a message along with a present.
Which Airline Gift Cards Are Best?
The most popular airline gift cards are American Express Membership Rewards Cards. They offer a wide variety of benefits including free checked bags, lounge access, priority boarding, and even cashback.
Are There Any Other Types Of Pilots I Should Consider Gifting?
Yes, there are several different types of pilots. Commercial pilots, for example, work for airlines and therefore usually earn significantly less than military pilots.
Flight instructors are often paid per student rather than per hour. In addition, flight attendants are employed by the airlines themselves.
Where Can I Buy Airline Gift Cards?
You can get American Express Membership Reward Gift Cards at most major retailers. Alternatively, you can order online through Amazon.com or Walmart.com