Not to rub salt in the wounds, but Christmas less than a week away. Thanks to the logistical marvels that are UPS, FedEx, and even the good old USPS you’ve still got a little time left to order online. Failing that, you’ve got just under 6 days to find something in town.
So, now that I’ve got you good and worried, let me offer a helping hand to any of you searching for something to put a smile on a pilot’s face. I’ve put together a brief collection of last minute pilot gifts.
As a matter of disclosure, a majority of these links are affiliate links and, though it costs you nothing, a small portion of your sale will make its way back to me in the form of a commission. I would greatly appreciate it if you’d use these links as it helps me offset the costs of running this blog. Now, on to the list.
A $450 watch?! Yes, but this isn’t just any watch. You see, Garmin (the same people that make the G1000) have managed to cram an entire cockpit full of toys into this thing. The showstopper is the WAAS GPS, but there are probably about 100 other features. I could go on and on about this thing, but I will spare you. Bottom line: if your budget is big, just buy this.
2.) Sporty’s SP-400 Handheld NAV/COM or Icom IC-A24 NAV-COM Transceiver
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.) Flight Training
This is one of those things that on the surface seems boring, but makes a really great gift. It’s not even as crazy expensive as you’d think. Well, unless you’re paying someone’s tuition for a jet type rating. I’m talking more along the lines of a great instructional book, like Flying IFR, or a course, like Sporty’s Instrument Rating Course.
4.) Cash/Gift Card
I don’t really think there’s much to say about this one. Pilots like to fly and that takes money. So, why not just give them some money or see if their rental place offers gift cards/certificates?
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.
7.)An aviation-themed Christmas ornament
This suggestion is born out of a tradition at my house. Every year Hallmark has a different collection of ornaments and every year my wife buys me “the airplane one.” It’s something I enjoy receiving and it provides a nice excuse for including airplanes on our tree. Sporty’s does an ornament every year, too and this year it’s an RV-12.
8.) Gats Jar
If you’re familiar with planes, 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 plane 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.
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).
10.) An airplane/helicopter
I don’t want to discourage you really big spenders (please definitely buy me a Cessna 170 or 140 if you want), but I’m talking about a model or RC aircraft. These can be purchased with almost any budget in almost any town. Whether a simple model, like this 1:48 scale Corsair, or something more expensive, like this RC Champ, it’s hard to go wrong with a “toy” on Christmas (even for adults).