Top Gift Ideas for Professional Pilots

Professional pilots are sometimes difficult to buy presents for. They almost always have all of their necessary pilot supplies on hand already, but even if they don't, many airline pilots and other commercial pilots are very specific about their preferences regarding flying gadgets. Nevertheless, here are a few gift ideas that every pilot will appreciate:

Flight Time

Woman Pilot Standing Next to an Airplane
Rich Legg/E+/Getty Images

Yes, you read that correctly. The gift of flight is always an acceptable gift for a pilot. Pilots like to fly, but sometimes they get tired of flying the same aircraft all the time. This is especially true for a professional pilot. A flight in an airplane they don't usually fly (a warbird, float plane or glider perhaps) will bring back the excitement of flying.  

Aircraft Model

Model Aircraft
Model Aircraft. Getty/Cultura RM Exclusive/Zero Creatives

If a flight in a real airplane isn't an option, then the next best thing might be a model airplane. You can find a really nice model online or at local pilot supply store.  Aircraft models will range from $50-$500 or more and are often made of wood or aluminum.  Often times, you can customize the model with the specific paint scheme and tail number of the airplane he flies (or an airplane he admires). 

A Go-Pro

GoPro. Getty/David Becker

Pilots love the GoPro Hero+ HD camera for its ability to be mounted almost anywhere, including on the airplane. The folks at GoPro have thought of everything -- the Hero 3 Black version can take up to 30 frames per second, is waterproof and is Wi-Fi capable. Its versatility means that pilots will find it useful outside of the airplane, too. It's popular among extreme sports athletes like skiers, boaters, bikers, rock climbers and anyone else with a passion for capturing the intensity of life. More

IPad Accessories

iPad. Getty/Peter Macdiarmid

Since most people, including pilots, have an iPad or some other type of tablet, you can't go wrong with the latest iPad accessories.  Grab a backup battery, an iPad kneeboard or an iPad mini yoke mount (like this one) if he doesn't already have one.

ADS-B or GPS for iPad

GPS marker on worldmap displayed on a tablet
Maciej Frolow / Getty Images

An external iPad GPS or ADS-B receiver is something that will make every pilot's life a little bit easier. An ADS-B receiver for iPad allows pilots to receive traffic and weather information like TIS-B and FIS-B directly on the iPad, and it works well with most iPad aviation apps. ADS-B is pricey, though. It can be $1,000 or more for a receiver.

For a cheaper option, you might opt for a regular GPS receiver like the Bad Elf Pro iPad GPS. While the GPS receivers don't do traffic and weather like ADS-B, it's still more accurate than 3G on your iPad and saves you from the cost of the monthly subscription service.  

LED Headlamp

Headlamp. Getty/Colin Hawkins

If you've ever fumbled around for a flashlight in the dark or tried to take notes while holding a flashlight in your mouth, then you know how useful a headlamp is. For around $20, you can buy a multi-colored headlamp made specifically for night flying. A headlamp frees up the pilot's hands to do other things like starting the airplane or write down ATC instructions. 

A Good Flashlight

Flashlight. Getty/Daniel Allan

A pilot can never have too many flashlights. They get lost, beat up and burnt out, so even if the pilot has three flashlights already, rest assured an additional one will be used sooner or later. This Smith & Wesson Captain's Flashlight, available at numerous pilot shops, is durable and offers white light along with red and blue light for low light situations. It's simple but durable, and a favorite among pilots.

Aviator Sunglasses

aviator sunglasses
Aviator sunglasses. Getty/WIN-Initiative

As with flashlights, sunglasses tend to get used and abused by pilots. An extra pair of their favorite aviators would be a welcome gift. With two pairs, they can keep a pair in the flight bag and one in the car. 

Tech-Friendly Flying Gloves

Flying Gloves. Getty/ Dougal Waters

Flying in cold weather requires a pair of warm flying gloves. Getting a tech-friendly pair will ensure the pilot will have warm hands even while he loads his flight plan and checks the weather on his iPad. Try these Elma Touch Screen Leather gloves from  

Travel Adaptor

Travel adapter
Travel adapter. Getty/Marc Broussely

A worldwide travel adaptor (like this one from Skross) will come in handy for the international pilot. Pilot gadgets need charging at some point, and international pilots tend to go long periods of time without a place to charge up. Make life easier by gifting an all-in-one adapter that will charge multiple types of electronics without hassle.

Tumi Packing Cubes

Packing. Getty/Ann Cutting

Let's face it -- pilots typically like things to be neat and orderly. And since they're always traveling, luggage organizers like the Tumi Packing Cubesare an obvious choice for a professional pilot.

Bose Headsets

Buffalo Bills v Detroit Lions
Leon Halip / Getty Images

It's true that a professional pilot has probably already purchased a good pair of headsets for himself. But he probably settled for a cheap or mid-range model, and still secretly wants that top-of-the-line Bose headset. Plus, even if he already has a good headset, he might appreciate having an extra for the jumpseat or other passengers. Bose headsets are pricey but are noise-canceling, Bluetooth-enabled and are known for their comfort.  More