Racking your brain trying to think of the best gift for a pilot?
I have you covered.
Whether you’re buying for a student, private, or airline pilot, here are some gifts they’re sure to love.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Gifts for Student Pilots
- 2 Best Gifts for Private Pilots
- 3 Best Gifts for Airline Pilots
Best Gifts for Student Pilots
The best gifts for pilots in training are practical gifts that will prove useful as they learn to fly and work towards their private pilot license.
Stick and Rudder Book
A timeless classic that any student pilot will appreciateNew: $23.08
First published in 1944, Stick and Rudder is a timeless classic that any aspiring pilot needs to add to their bookshelf.
There is no better book that covers the fundamentals of flight and will set anyone who is learning to fly on the right path from the very start.
Flyboys F-16 Viper Kneeboard
Combat tested and designed for fighter pilots, any student pilot would love to receive this kneeboard as a giftNew: $39.95
Every student pilot needs a kneeboard, and they don’t come much better than the Flyboys F-16 Viper.
The F-16 was originally designed for fighter pilots and combat-tested in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo. Pretty cool, right? So you know that it can be relied upon, and features everything a pilot needs in the cockpit.
Rod Machado Private Pilot Handbook
The best book to help student pilots to pass their examsNew: $90.65
The goal of every student pilot is to pass the checkride and knowledge test required to get their private pilot license.
Rod Machado’s Private Pilot Handbook is usually the go-to resource for any student pilot who wants to make sure they are properly prepared and able to pass the test the first time of asking.
It is unique in the way that the content isn’t dry, but written in a way that is humorous, and the knowledge sticks.
Ray-Ban RB30235 Aviator Sunglasses
The iconic pair of sunglasses worn by Tom Cruise in Top Gun.Check Amazon for Pricing
There are some very good reasons why pilots wear aviators, but one of the main reasons is that it can get real bright way up there in the skies, which is why every student pilot needs a good pair of sunglasses that they can rely on.
I recommend the classic Ray-Ban RB30235, which are the sunglasses that Tom Cruise wore in Top Gun.
Whether you buy these Ray-Bans or another pair of sunglasses, just make sure that you get a non-polarized pair. Polarized lenses filter out too much glare, making them unsuitable for flying.
Alpha Industries MA-1 Flight Bomber Jacket
True to its classic military specifications, the MA-1 flight bomber jacket is perfect for inside and outside the cockpit.New: $200.00
I have yet to meet a pilot who doesn’t love a good bomber jacket. It’s even common to see non-pilots wearing the MA-1 jacket, making it perfect for use inside and outside the cockpit, especially with how cold it can get up high and in the winter.
For its authenticity, the Alpha Industries MA-1 Flight Bomber Jacket is the one to get. The company won the contract to manufacture the MA-1 for the military, and still make them today. A student pilot will definitely look the part in this jacket.
Best Gifts for Private Pilots
Learning to fly can be expensive, so student pilots usually start off with gear and equipment that is sufficient to get the job done. But now with a private pilot license in their hands, the best gifts for private pilots are higher quality gear and equipment.
Any of the following gifts are sure to put a big smile on a private pilot’s face.
The convenience of using an iPad in the cockpit can't be overstatedCheck Amazon for Pricing
Any pilot will tell you that the convenience of using an iPad instead of relying on paper charts, maps, sectionals, books, and all the other items they need to fly can’t be overstated.
An iPad Mini, therefore, makes a great gift for student and private pilots, especially as space is at a premium in the cockpit.
I recommend getting the model with 256GB of memory, as the additional storage space will be useful away from the cockpit. The WiFi and Cellular option is also recommended so a pilot can activate moving map capabilities in popular flight apps, like ForeFlight.
Flying Magazine Subscription
Any pilot will enjoy reading about and keeping up to date with all things aviation.Check Amazon for Pricing
A great inexpensive gift for private pilots is a yearly subscription to Flying magazine.
Any pilot will enjoy reading and being informed about aviation-related news, pilot technique and flight safety tips, product and service announcements and reviews, and all other kinds of relevant piloting information.
Garmin D2 Air Aviator Smartwatch
GPS doesn't get more practical or portable than a watch.Check Amazon for Pricing
Every pilot needs a GPS device to rely on, and it doesn’t get much more practical, portable, and fashionable than a watch.
The Garmin D2 Air Aviator Smartwatch fits a lot into its touchscreen display, including weather reports, a pulse oxygen checker, and full GPS functionality.
Related: 3 Best Smartwatches for Pilots
Bose A20 Aviation Headset
Comfortably the best headset on the market, there is no better gift to receive than the Bose A20.New: $1,074.95
If you’re feeling particularly generous, there is no better gift for a private pilot to receive than a Bose A20 headset. It is comfortably the best headset on the market, famed for its best-in-class noise-canceling performance, battery life, and comfort.
The headset is also TSO-certified, so bonus points if a pilot wants to eventually become an airline pilot, as the use of a TSO-certified headset is mandatory.
Best Gifts for Airline Pilots
An airline pilot usually already has the best gear and equipment, so the best gifts for airline pilots are those that they either haven’t thought of but will prove to be very useful when flying, or only touch upon aviation and are also useful away from the cockpit.
Wacaco Minipresso GR Portable Espresso Machine
Make the perfect cup of espresso every time wherever you areNew: $54.90
As the Wacaco Minipresso GR Portable Espresso Machine doesn’t require batteries or electricity it is ideal for in-flight use.
Just add coffee grounds, hot water, and pump to produce the perfect cup of espresso every time.
SKROSS PRO Plus USB World Adapter
This SKROSS Pro Plus USB World Adapter means there is one less thing airline pilots will have to worry aboutNew: $39.99
Any international airline pilot will tell you that it can be a nightmare traveling to different countries, getting to the hotel late, and then trying to charge their phone or other devices in sockets they’re not used to.
With two USB ports, two and three-prong cords, and compatible in over 150 countries, the SKROSS PRO Plus USB World Adapter means that there is one less thing that airline pilots will have to worry about.
Godinger Whiskey Decanter Airplane Globe Set
Surprise the airline pilot in your life with this beautiful whiskey decanter set.New: $89.95
This beautiful-looking whiskey decanter set is sure to be a hit with airline pilots.
Placed on a mahogany-stained wooden airplane, the decanter features an etched globe design and airplane in the bottle, with 2 matching globe design old-fashioned whiskey glasses.
Fly Safe i Love You Keychain
Show your love to the airline pilot in your life with this inexpensive yet heartfelt gift.New: $9.99
Sometimes the most inexpensive gift can be the most heartfelt.
There is no better way to express your love to the airline pilot in your life with a simple keychain and a touching message, whatever the occasion.
Gentleman Jon Complete Wet Shave Kit
A quality wet shaving kit that airlines pilots will appreciate on those long layovers and stopovers.New: $49.50
A quality wet shaving kit is sure to be appreciated by airline pilots on those long layovers and stopovers.
The Gentleman Jon Complete Wet Shave Kit features a safety razor, a 100% authentic black badger hair brush, a stainless shave bowl, shaving soap, 5 razor blades, and alum block to prevent razor burn.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.