Struggling to find the perfect gift for the pilot in your life? We’ve made it easy by coming up with this complete list of the best gifts for pilots.
Finding the right gift or anyone in your life can be a struggle. You need to know what that person is into and what kinds of things they like. That, or if you at least know that they’re a pilot, you can rely on us to provide a complete list for you. After all, we know exactly what pilots want since we’re pilots ourselves! So what kind of gifts do pilots really want?
The best gifts for pilots include ones that they can use while flying, vintage/historical memorabilia, pilot apparel, headsets and radios, pilot watches, customized gifts, and gifts for kids that are aspiring to be pilots. With this list, you’ll find something for any pilot that you know!
Are you looking for the perfect gift for a pilot? If so, you're in luck! We've put together a comprehensive list of the best gifts that pilots will love. Whether they are just starting out in their flying career or they have been flying for years, there is something on this list for everyone. So what are you waiting for? Check out our picks for the best gifts for pilots and get shopping!
The reason we know that these are the best gifts for pilots is that we’re pilots ourselves. But these aren’t just our personal opinions, since that would be a bit biased. To make sure you’re getting the best information possible, we’ve combined our own personal favorites with inputs from other enthusiasts and experts in the aviation industry so that you know exactly what to buy.
Best Gifts Ideas for Pilots
To make it even easier to find the right gift for that pilot in your life, we’ll break the list down into different categories so you can use this as your number one resource when a special occasion comes around.
These categories will include practical gifts that they can use while flying, historical memorabilia, apparel, communication (radios, headsets, etc.), pilot watches, personalized items, gifts for kids that want to be pilots, and more. That’s enough chatter for now, let’s get into the list. These are some of the best gifts on the market for pilots.
Best Practical Gifts for Pilots (Including Some That They Can Use While Flying)
Portable Battery Backup
Pilots are always on the go and they need a way to keep their devices charged while they're in the air. A portable battery backup charger like this is the perfect solution. It's small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, and it has enough power to charge a phone or tablet.
Plus, it comes with a built-in flashlight in case of an emergency. It can even operate as a hand-crank radio if need be. This is one of those things that you really can’t go wrong with.
This is a must-have for any pilot who travels frequently outside of their normal duty hours. A luggage scale can help them avoid overweight baggage fees, and it's also useful for weighing carry-on bags to make sure they're within the size limit.
A good option is this one from Etekcity as it’s small and lightweight, so it's easy to take with them on the go. Heck, something like this could even be useful for you (or anyone else) regardless of being a pilot or not!
Pilots need to be able to focus on their work, and sometimes that means tuning out the noise around them. Noise-canceling headphones are a great way to do that, and this pair from Bose is relatively affordable (considering the quality) and gets the job done. They're also perfect for use during takeoff and landing when outside noise is at its loudest.
This is of course more so for private pilots rather than commercial pilots, since commercial pilots must remain in contact with ATC and other pilots at all times! You can also opt for more versatile earbuds and headphones that do more than cancel the noise, but we’ll touch on a few pairs like that shortly!
iPad Air with Retina Display
An iPad is a great gift for just about any pilot, whether they're using it for flight planning, charting, or just keeping entertained during long flights. The iPad Air has a large Retina display that's perfect for viewing maps and other data, and it's lightweight so it won't weigh down their carry-on bag.
Plus, at the end of the day, it’s still an iPad and they’ll be able to enjoy it for all kinds of other things outside of the pilot-related life! This is one of the best gifts on this list in terms of versatility and the total amount of use they can get out of it.
Pilot’s Coffee Mug or Tumbler
Help them start the day off right with a cup of coffee in a pilot-themed mug or tumbler. This one from 64HYDRO is insulated to keep their beverage hot, and it has a cool aviation-inspired design. It's also perfect for carrying around the airport or flying from one destination to another.
Pilots need to remain awake and alert at all times, so coffee is a no-brainer. But who wants to carry a plain, boring old coffee mug or tumbler around? This is a cheap and effective way to spice things up a bit and give them something aviation-related without going overboard.
Gift Card to an Aviation Store
If you're not sure what to get, a gift card is always a good option. That way, the pilot in your life can choose exactly what they need. An aviation store like Sporty's Pilot Shop or Aircraft Spruce is a great choice for pilots, as they offer everything from flight training materials to pilot supplies and more.
This is a simple, no-pressure gift that will allow them to buy whatever they want and truly need from the store! I know some people shy away from gift cards because they seem so much less personal than other types of gifts, but people that receive gift cards (myself included!) are usually pretty happy with them because they can buy what they want.
Wireless Earbuds (Apple Airpods, Echo Buds, Bose True Wireless, etc.)
Commercial pilots need to be able to hear ATC and other pilots while they're flying, but if you're flying on your own, you might need a way to stay entertained during long flights. Wireless earbuds are the perfect solution since they connect via Bluetooth and don’t require any sort of WiFi or anything else like that (plus they can even work in Airplane Mode!).
They allow you to listen to music or podcasts without being tethered to your phone. And you can still hear what's going on around you with higher-end pairs that have passthrough technology like Apple Airpods, Echo Buds, or Bose QuietComfort.
YETI Insulated Tumbler
Pilots need to stay hydrated, especially during long flights. A YETI tumbler is the perfect way to do that. It's insulated to keep your beverage cold (or hot), and it has an optional convenient straw lid for easy sipping. Plus, it's durable enough to withstand being dropped or knocked around in the cockpit when they hit some unexpected turbulence.
YETIs are known for their ability to keep drinks hot or cold for extended periods of time. If you’re one of those people that doesn’t like paying the inflated price for name brands like YETI (I don’t blame you), consider checking out this one from Lifecaipdo instead.
Best Vintage Gifts for Pilots
World War II Model Airplane Kits
For the pilot who loves history, a model airplane kit from World War II is the perfect gift. There are plenty of different kits to choose from, so you can find one that's perfect for your budget and their interests.
Something like a model P-51D is one that just about any pilot will appreciate and you really can’t go wrong with it. These kinds of kits are a great way to learn about the history of aviation, and they're also fun to build and display.
Vintage Aviation Books
There's nothing like a good book to entertain a pilot while on a long flight once autopilot takes over or someone who just enjoys reading about aviation in their free time. For the pilot who loves to read, a book about the history of aviation is the perfect gift, like this one about some of the most influential aviators in history.
There are plenty of other great titles to choose from, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding something that they’re into. If they like World War II planes, then the Encyclopedia of Aircraft of WW2 is a great choice. Or maybe they want to learn about the Wright Brothers, in particular, then consider this book about the famous duo.
In short, books are the type of gift that you can almost always fall back on (as long as they like reading!).
A replica propeller makes a great gift for the pilot who loves to decorate their office or home with aviation memorabilia. It's also a great conversation starter, and it's something that can be passed down from generation to generation. Plus there are different propeller shapes and designs from all sorts of different planes, so you might be able to find one that’s a bit more tailored to them.
While there are all sorts of styles of propellers to choose from, a wooden one will likely match standard home decor more than anything made of metal, so you might want to consider this one from Deco 79. But if you know they would prefer a metal one, something like this iron sheet metal one could be a great option.
Vintage Aviation Posters
A poster is a great way to add some aviation flair to their home or office while being much easier to hang up and display than a large propeller! For the pilot who loves to decorate, a vintage aviation poster set is a perfect gift, especially if they’re just getting into piloting or even if they’re a kid who hasn’t quite gotten their wings just yet.
There are pretty much endless choices for you to choose from, and it really comes to exactly what they’re into. For someone that is into old war planes, then a poster like these from World War I or World War II might be good options. Or if they’re into the history of aviation, something like this 5-piece wall art might be an even better choice.
Best Apparel Gifts for Pilots
A classic for pilots, the bomber jacket is both stylish and functional. It's perfect for flying in colder weather, and it has a lot of pockets for carrying all of your pilot supplies. Plus, it looks great both in and out of the cockpit. Bomber jackets became famous and popular for a reason, and any private pilot in your life will appreciate having one
These are typically made of leather like this one from Levi’s, but you can also find them in other materials like denim. The different types of material will often dictate the price, durability, and warmth of the jacket. So just make sure you understand what you’re paying for before checking out!
These are a must-have for any pilot, and they make a great gift. Aviator sunglasses help to reduce glare and eye fatigue, and they look great too. You can find them in all sorts of styles and materials and from all the major brands.
Even outside of flying, the aviator style is among the most popular. High-quality choices include these ones from Oakley, Ray-Ban, and Serengeti. You can save money by getting off-brand sunglasses, but these are one of those things where you really get what you pay for. When it comes to eye protection, you really don’t want to skimp out to save a few bucks!
A pilot shirt is a must-have for any pilot's wardrobe. They're typically made of cotton or a cotton blend, and they come in both short and long-sleeve options. Pilot shirts are comfortable to wear, and they look great anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
Depending on the style you’re looking for, you can find plenty of both short-sleeve and long-sleeve options at Amazon. As with all other apparel, you want to at least have an idea of what size shirt the person wears before submitting your order. Worst case scenario, lean on the side of caution and go for the bigger size since it’ll be far more comfortable than one that’s too tight!
Best Handheld Radios and Headsets for Pilots
Unlike most of the other categories in this guide, we actually have full-length articles that go over all of the best aviation handheld radios and headsets. In those articles, we break down all of the models you see below (and more) in great detail, so we will be fairly brief here. If you want more details about these, look for those articles on the site and see the full descriptions of each of these radios and headsets!
Yaesu FTA850L VHF Handheld Radio
The best handheld radio on the market for pilots is the Yaesu FTA850L. It’s a great all-around radio that handles both NAV and COMM. It has a 400-channel memory bank and even supports Airband frequencies. It has an antenna for enhanced signal and a headset adapter to plug into the top headsets below.
Yaesu FTA750L VHF Handheld Radio
A close second to the model above, next up is the Yaesu FTA750L. This is another great all-purpose handheld radio that can do both NAV and COMM, as well as GPS. Its memory bank is half the size at just 200 channels, but that's standard for most radios on the market. This is the predecessor to the FTA850L, and it's a great option if you're looking to save a few bucks.
Icom IC-A25N VHF Handheld Radio
The first option here of a different brand, next up is the Icom IC-A25N. This one is a great handheld radio that has both COMM-only and NAV+COMM versions so you can decide what you really need. It has a 300-channel memory and a battery that lasts for up to 10.5 hours of constant use.
Yaesu FTA-450L Airband VHF Handheld Radio
Back to Yaesu, the next radio you should consider is the Yaesu FTA-450L. This one is a COMM-only radio, meaning it can't do quite as much as the ones listed above, but it's more than capable of handling normal communication needs. This is why it's also much more affordable than the other options that can do NAV, GPS, and COMM!
Icom IC-A16B VHF with Bluetooth Handheld Radio
We'll finish off our list of radios with another COMM-only model, the Icom IC-A16B. This is another great choice for a pilot who needs a reliable and affordable radio. This one also has the added benefit of Bluetooth, which means you can use it with a headset or other Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Bose A20 Aviation Headset
Arguably (perhaps even inarguably for many pilots), the single best headset on the market is the Bose A20 Aviation Headset. This headset is comfortable, has great noise reduction (30% better than convention aviation headsets), and is packed with features that pilots love. It comes with a fairly steep price, but I know pilots that have been using it for the better part of a decade with no issues.
Bose Proflight Series 2 Aviation Headset
Next up on the list is another option from Bose, the Proflight Series II. This is a newer headset from Bose that was designed specifically for use in cockpits. It's lighter and more comfortable than the A20, and it has some great features like voice-activated microphone control. It's also a bit more affordable than the A20, making it a great option if you want to save just a couple of bucks.
Lightspeed Zulu 3 Aviation Headset
Another high-quality option if you don't want to go the Bose route is the Lightspeed Zulu 3. This headset has a lot of features that pilots love, including Bluetooth capabilities, clear audio, and comfortable ear cups. It's also very lightweight, so it won't strain their necks as they're flying. This is a great gift for pilots who fly regularly or for those who are just getting into the gig.
Kore Aviation KA-1 Premium (Best Budget Aviation Headset)
If you want to buy a headset for the pilot in your life but aren't looking to break the bank, the best option is the Kore Aviation KA-1 Premium. This headset is comfortable and has a noise-canceling microphone, making it perfect for use in the cockpit. It's also compatible with most radios, so the pilot in your life will be able to use it no matter what aircraft they're flying.
Best Watches for Pilots
Watches are actually one of the best things you can get for a pilot. Why? Because they need to be able to tell time quickly and easily, and a watch does that far better than a phone ever could. Not only that, but watches are stylish, and they make a great conversation starter.
There are all sorts of different watches out there, but not all of them are created equal. You want to make sure you get a watch that’s durable, readable, and has all of the features that a pilot needs. Here are some of our favorite watches for pilots.
IWC Big Pilot Black Dial Automatic
The IWC Big Pilot Black Dial Automatic is a great gift for any pilot. It’s a high-quality watch that’s built to last, and it has all of the features that a pilot needs. Plus, it looks great too! And while looks don't always correlate to higher quality, it's still an important part of watch shopping.
This watch is water-resistant up to 6 bars of pressure, and it has a 7-day power reserve that counts down with the miniature dial on the right side of the watch face. It also has a date window at the six o’clock position, and it’s powered by an automatic movement. The IWC Big Pilot Black Dial Automatic is a great gift for any pilot, and it’s sure to be appreciated.
Citizen JY0010-50E Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T Titanium
The Citizen JY0010-50E Eco-Drive Skyhawk A-T Titanium is another great gift for pilots. It’s a high-quality watch that’s built to last, and it has all of the features that a pilot needs. Plus, it looks great too!
This watch is water resistant up to 200 meters, and it has a scratch-resistant face and band so you don't have to worry about moving around in the cockpit. It also has a perpetual calendar, an alarm, a world timer, and it has both analog and digital displays so it's super easy to quickly glance down and see what you're looking for.
Farer Pilot Automatic Morgan
Next up on our list is the Farer Pilot Automatic Morgan. This is a beautiful watch that’s perfect for pilots, and it has all of the features that you could want in a watch. And like all the other watches you'll find in this guide, we think it looks great too!
This watch has a 39.5mm case and is water resistant up to 50 meters. It has a date window, and the hands and markers are all luminescent. The Morgan also has an exhibition case back so you can see the inner workings of the watch. It's powered by a Swiss automatic movement, and it comes with a leather strap.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Air-King
Without a doubt the biggest name in the luxury watch world is Rolex, and their Oyster Perpetual Air-King is one of the most popular pilot watches around. It has a simple, yet elegant design and it’s incredibly well made.
The Air-King has a 40mm case and is water resistant to 100 meters. It has a screw-down crown and an acrylic crystal. The dial is black with white gold hands and markers. It’s powered by Rolex’s caliber perpetual self-winding movement which has a power reserve of 70 hours.
Breitling Exospace B55
Last, but certainly not least, is the Breitling Exospace B55. This is a top of the line smartwatch that was designed with pilots in mind. It has all the features you would expect from a high-end smartwatch, plus a few extras that are specifically tailored more for pilots.
Some of the features include an ETA chronograph movement, a multifunctional electronic tachymeter, a countdown timer, 7 daily alarms, UTC and world time functions, and more. It’s also water resistant to 100 meters and has a battery life of up to 10 years. Overall, it's by far the best smartwatch on the market for a pilot!
Best Personalized Gifts for Pilots
Personalized gifts are always a great idea no matter the industry or the occasion. We could list all sorts of basic personalized things here like a coffee mug, a wooden lounge sign, or anything else similar where you could put the pilot's name on it or something like that.
But that's boring! Instead, these are two of my favorite personalized gifts that you can get the pilot in your life. And they're far more unique than the normal stuff that most people get!
Legacy Paver at the United States Army Aviation Museum
One of the coolest and most unique gifts in this entire guide is to get them a paver that will be placed at the United States Army Aviation Museum. It's an incredible gift for any pilot, and it's something that they can go back and visit time and time again.
This is an incredible gift for anyone that loves aviation or that has served in the Army. The Legacy Paver Program is a great way to support the Army Aviation Museum and commemorate the pilot in your life at the same time. Pavers are available in 4" x 8" and 8" x 8" sizes, and the laser engraving is designed to last a lifetime!
Pilot Bobblehead With Their Face
For something that's a bit more fun, consider getting the pilot in your life a bobblehead with their face on it. These are always great gifts, and they're sure to get a laugh out of anyone that sees it. Plus, bobbleheads are something that the pilot can take with them when they're flying and even keep in the airplane with them!
The bobbleheads from Bobblehead Craft will put your pilot's face on a miniature figurine that's sitting in an airplane. It's a fun way to show off their aviation hobby, and it's something that they can display in their home or office (or on the dash of the plane!). You can even get a custom message engraved on the base and choose the eye, hair, and skin color to make sure it's perfect.
Best Gifts for Kids That Want to be Pilots
Remote Controlled Airplane
For the aspiring pilot in your life, a remote controlled airplane is a perfect gift. They can fly it around the house or in the yard, and it's a great way to get them interested in aviation. There are plenty of different types of airplanes to choose from, so you can find one that fits their interests and that they’ll love flying.
If they’re into fighter jets, you might want to consider picking up something like this F-16 Fighting Falcon. Maybe they light the look of smaller, single-engine airplanes. If so, this Cessna 182 is the perfect plane. Heck, you could even get something a bit more futuristic like this X-Wing Starfighter from Star Wars.
The key is to get them out of the house and excited about flying something!
If your child is really into aviation, they'll love this pilot costume. It's perfect for Halloween or dress-up, and it comes with everything they need to look the part. The costume includes a jacket, hat, and pair of pants. After they get a glimpse of themselves in the mirror, they'll be hooked. If they want to become a fighter pilot one day, this fighter pilot costume is right up their alley.
This is such a fun gift for kids, and it's something that they'll really enjoy. Not to mention, it's a great way to get them even more interested in aviation and planes. And while I absolutely think it's important to let your kids choose their own way, I think there are worse things to sway them towards than aviation!
Children’s Books About Pilots and Flying
There are tons of great children's books about pilots and flying. If you have a young reader in your life, these make for the perfect gift. Not only will they get to learn about aviation, but they'll also get to experience it vicariously through the characters in the book. It's a win-win!
Some of my personal favorite options include The Big Book of Airplanes and The Airplane Pilot: Jake Wants to be a Pilot. These two books are a great introduction to the world of aviation for kids and will teach them all about different kinds of airplanes and get them started on thinking about how to become a pilot, respectively.
NASA Flight Suit Backpack
Think back to when you were in school for a second. Remember wanting to have the coolest backpack in the world? Well, this is that backpack for kids who want to be pilots. It's a backpack that looks just like a NASA flight suit from ETSY. And it even comes with fun little patches!
This is such a fun and unique gift for kids. It's perfect for carrying around school supplies or for taking on a long flight. No matter what, they're sure to love it.
As you can see, there are tons of great gift options for pilots (and aspiring pilots). No matter what your budget is, you're sure to find something that they'll love. Most of these gifts are perfect for just about any occasion. Christmas, birthdays, finishing pilot training, graduation, Father's Day, anything! So get out there and start shopping!
About THE AUTHOR
After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.Read More About Joe Haygood