10 Last Minute Gift Ideas for Pilots
At this point, I’m sure you’re in a rush trying to wrap up your Christmas shopping. The good news is that you’ve got about 5 days left to order online and I’ve got 10 things that will put a smile on a pilot’s face. I’ve tried to stick to 3 budget categories, which I’ll call luxury, a little pricey, and reasonable. The first three or four will set you back $400 to $700, but everything else can be had for less than $150.
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It’s the most talked-about product of the year, and the easiest way to get in-flight weather on your iPad. Stratus is a totally wireless, portable receiver that streams NEXRAD radar, text weather, TFRs and GPS position to the ForeFlight app—all without a monthly subscription. Simply turn on Stratus, connect to your iPad and go flying. There are no wires, no subscriptions and no hassles.
Sometimes a great portable radio is all that is standing between you and getting home. Either of these handhelds make for a great gift for any pilot. Sure there are cheaper models, but these are Nav/Coms, which means they’ll do radio navigation for those times when you need a little help finding your way. I think the SP-400 edges out the competition thanks to the fact that it also handles ILS signals.
3.) Zaon PCAS MRX
I can’t really think of a better way to show your love, than getting someone something that could save their life. The Zaon PCAS MRX isn’t any different. It has all kinds of great features that all serve one purpose–to keep you from crashing into another plane.
4.) Flight Time
I don’t really think there’s much to say about this one. Pilots like to fly, so whether you’re putting gas in their plane or paying their rent for a couple of hours, why not just give them some money?
The sad fact is the easiest way to soil your cool pilot image is toting all your gear in a plastic grocery sack. Thankfully, companies like Brightline make bags that hold a ton of gear and still look cool. They also make great gifts. I like the Brightline B10 Classic FLEX System Bag, because it will hold lots of gear and can be configured to meet almost any need. Plus, it’s just big enough to hold a 13 inch Macbook.
6.) Sunglasses, such as the American Optical Flight Gear Original Pilot Sunglass
Every pilot needs a good pair of sunglasses. There are many great brands, but I’m partial to the American Optical Flight Gear line. I have the 57mm silver frames with true color grey glass lenses. I like them because they play nicely with headsets and they can take a beating. Not long after I got mine I walked into a flap and knocked them off my face. After I straightened them up a little, they weren’t really any worse for the wear.
Another essential piece of pilot gear, and thus a good gift, is a great flashlight. The Smith & Wesson Galaxy 13 LED Flashlight is particularly brilliant, because it includes red and white LEDs. Its 10 bright white LEDs will shine plenty of light on the situation, while the red LEDs provide for use during night flights without destroying the all important “visual purple” (i.e., you’ll still be able to see in the dark).
8.) Gats Jar
If you’re familiar with aircraft, you might know there are 13 fuel sumps on new Cessnas. Checking each can get old fast with regular testers and usually means plenty of wasted fuel. In any case, the Gats Jar will accommodate fuel samples from almost any aircraft and, thanks to the screen that holds back the water, the sampled fuel can be returned to the tanks. It’s not a glamorous gift, but a good one nonetheless.
9.) Stick and Rudder
Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying, as I’m sure you know, I consider to be required reading for every pilot. It also makes a great gift for any pilot who doesn’t have a copy.
I count One Six Right as one of the best aviation documentaries to come out and the flying and aircraft scenes make it a must watch for aviation buffs of all leanings. The Restorers, meanwhile, is great for vintage aircraft and warbird afficionadoes alike. For P-51 fans, Gray Eagles is simply stunning and probably the greatest 30 minutes outside of actually flying a mustang. Barnstorming, on the other hand, takes a look at a slower, but equally exciting kind of flying and how aviation brings people together. Any of the four (or all of them for that matter) would make a great gift for any pilot.