101 Gifts for Pilots

8 Gift Categories Featuring Unique Gift Ideas for Holidays, Birthdays, and Special Occasions

Best Gifts For Pilots

You might be running out of gift ideas for the pilots in your life if all you can think of is a bumper sticker or license plate frame that says, “I’d rather be flying!” Something we know a lot about is what pilots like. So, read on, and we’ll share some incredibly unique gift ideas for your favorite pilots.

1. Pilot Gifts with a Hint of History

Memphis Belle Warbird
If you’re aiming for a unique aviation gift, consider something pertaining to aviation’s rich history. This B-17 was used to portray the famed Memphis Belle that made World War II history. The public can fly in such aircraft through the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, New York.

Army Aviation Museum Legacy Paver Program

Army Aviation Museum Paver
Personalized legacy pavers are available at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum.

You can surprise your pilot with a legacy brick displayed at the entrance of the U.S. Army Aviation Museum in Fort Rucker, Alabama. This gift will last a lifetime. Bricks are laser-engraved and support a worthy cause. If your favorite flyer has military service, this is especially fitting. Do some investigating to find other aviation locations with a legacy brick program, such as Aviation Heritage Park or the Warhawk Air Museum. There may even be some still available at Kitty Hawk.

Autographed First Editions

David McCullough Autograph
You can purchase a copy of The Wright Brothers signed by David McCullough for your favorite pilot.

Believe it or not, autographed first editions are not impossible to come by. Furthermore, they are not necessarily cost prohibitive. Whether you’re looking for something by or about Charles Lindbergh or a well-thumbed volume by Ernest K. Gann, finding these treasures is easier than you think with online shopping. If you have something particular in mind, work with a reputable antique book dealer.

Planetags

Vintage Plane Tags
Made from the skin of vintage aircraft, Planetags offer a piece of history small enough to fit in your pocket.

Does your favorite pilot love a particular old aircraft? You don’t have room for an entire DC-8 in your hangar? Not to worry. There is a company that salvages the skin of vintage aircraft to make unique tags. This small piece of authentic aircraft is packed full of history. A Planetag makes a unique keychain or accessory to a backpack or suitcase.

Vintage Aeronautical Charts

Vintage Aeronautical Chart
A vintage sectional chart of a favorite place to fly can become a treasured gift.

If your favorite aviator appreciates both visual and vintage, surprise him or her with a vintage chart from a special flight. You may have to get them talking about the first cross-country solo trip or a particular route that holds a special memory, but then you’ll have all you need to find the perfect memento! Hint: Use a vintage chart as background in a shadowbox frame, and then mount your pilot’s photo on it.

Warbird Flights

B-24J Liberator Warbird
The Collings Foundation maintains and operates vintage aircraft like this B-24J Liberator.

From the P-51 Mustang to the SBD-5 Dauntless, the gift of a ride in one of these historic treasures will create cherished memories for your pilot. There are still many Warbirds lovingly preserved and maintained to the highest standards. These include the T-28B Trojan, TBM Avenger torpedo bomber, B-24 Liberator, B-17G Flying Fortress, and more. This may be the most thoughtful gift you can give a pilot.

2. Pilot Gifts with a Hint of Mystery

Pilot Mystery Gift
Some gifts are more than a surprise when they come with an element of mystery.

Custom Aerial Photography

erial Photography Central PA
A birds-eye view of a favorite place is a great gift for anyone – especially a pilot!

What’s that tiny little speck down there? Your house? Your pool? How about your plane? Surprise your pilot with beautiful customized aerial shot of the hangar, the house, or even the hot tub! Everyone is intrigued by aerial photography, so you can’t go wrong with this gift idea. Hint: You might want to buy a magnifying glass to go along with this present! Aerial photography is typically a regional business, so you can simply search for aerial photographers near you.

Custom Cameo

Filmmaking Cameo
Wouldn’t your pilot love a personalized video made by their favorite aviator or astronaut?

Depending on your pilot’s interests, there are many well known pilots who are available to record a personalized video message for your pilot’s special event. Imagine the look of surprise when you post birthday greetings on YouTube from a NASA astronaut! The cast of available cameo characters changes, and you can search by category. If you can’t find the perfect pilot to make a video, you may come across your pilot’s favorite celebrity who will record a custom video singing your pilot’s praises.

Custom “View-Master” Reels

Custom Viewmaster
Your pilot will love a retro Image3D “View-Master” with personalized aviation images showing important milestones and memories.

Who remembers the fun and mystery of viewing slides on a View-Master as a kid? If your pilot enjoys the nostalgia of old tech, this customized gift is perfect. Imagine receiving a “View-Master” with a custom reel. Your pilot will be thrilled to peer into the viewfinder to discover photos you’ve chosen. Which ones will you include? First solo? A special trip? The choice is yours!

3. “Members Only” Gifts

Pilot Members Only
Give the gift of membership benefits to support both your pilot and aviation organizations.

Aviation Organizations

Aviation Membership
Giving the gift of membership can provide meaningful opportunities for your pilot.

Your pilot may already be a member of some of the best aviation organizations. If so, you can always buy the gift of renewal. And, if not, how about an annual membership? Another idea would be to register your pilot for an aviation conference or fly-in. Here are just a few suggestions:

Museum Membership

Museum Artifact Pilot Helmet
Aviation museums chronicle the history of flight.

Fortunately, there are hundreds of excellent aviation museums all around the world. Giving the gift of a museum membership helps to preserve aviation history. Museums also give perks to members, such as discounts in the gift shop and admission to special events. California alone has 39 aviation museums, and you’ll find 49 throughout the United Kingdom. Here are a few favorites in the U.S., but this is a very short list:

4. The Gift of Music

Music for Pilots
Although pilots are too busy listening to ATC when they fly, give them some “blue skies” music for the car.

Does your pilot love a certain genre of music, or do they only have ears for Blue Skies by Ella Fitzgerald? Jefferson Airplane or Jefferson Starship? Chances are your pilot may already have these songs for aviators, but if not, track them down. You could even create a custom playlist! Okay, we know the list shows just the tiniest fraction of flying songs, but it will get you thinking…

5. Practical Pilot Gifts for Your Favorite Flyer

Pilot Tools are Practical Gifts
No pilot will ever be disappointed with practical gifts that are tools of the trade.

If your pilot is a frequent flyer, chances are a practical gift will be appreciated. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of useful gifts that are sure to please.

Flashlight

Pilot Flashlight
This Smith & Wesson dual beam flashlight is a favorite with pilots. It has both red and white LEDs to protect night vision.

Flashlights are a staple in the cockpit. There are plenty to choose from, so read reviews to see what other pilots prefer. Whether you buy a powerful bush pilot light or an LED light, it will be a thoughtful and practical gift.

Flight Bag

Flight Bag Gift
There are plenty of options for flight bags.

If your pilot has been duct-taping their old bag in places, now’s a good time to peruse flight bags. They offer many different features, so pay attention to your pilot’s needs, and as always, read reviews to see what others have to say. You’ll find the more traditional duffel bag style as well as lift bags.

Headsets

Epic Headset Bag
If you’re buying headsets, don’t forget a new bag to store them in.

No pilot will be without headsets, and even if they have an old favorite, the new tech is pretty irresistible. There are lots to choose from, so you might check to see if your pilot prefers Bose, Lightspeed, or classic David Clark.

Pilot Watch

Garmin Smart Watch
Any pilot would be thrilled to receive this sophisticated smart watch by Garmin. This D2 is a little pricey, but it’s highly rated by pilots.

Yes, even with all of the technology of the glass cockpit, the pilot watch is very much in use today. Two favorites are the Garmin D2 Air Smartwatch and the DC-3 Chronograph. However, there are many to choose from.

Radio

Handheld Pilot Radios
There are many portable hand-held radios available for pilots.

Pilots know the value of back-up systems, so having a hand-held radio onboard provides an element of reassurance. The PJ2 COM radio is a favorite with pilots. A NAV/COM radio can also prove useful.

6. Something for the Young or Aspiring Aviator

Young Aviator Gifts
Find gifts for the very young or the very young at heart!

If the pilot you’re shopping for is just getting started, or even thinking about getting started, you’ll find a wide range of gifts from the practical to the inspirational.

Flight of Passage

Flight of Passage Book
Flight of Passage, a memoir by Rinker Buck, is a favorite read among pilots.

No, this is not an actual flight. Flight of Passage is a beautiful memoir authored by Rinker Buck. This page-turning tale recounts his and his brother’s experiences, when at ages 15 and 17, they became the youngest pair to fly from East Coast to West Coast in an old Piper Cub. The year was 1966, and their passion for flying resulted in an incredible adventure that will inspire anyone, flyer or not. Another inspirational read is 101 Trailblazing Women of Air and Space by Dr. Penny Hamilton. There are many aviation books that make great gifts for every type of pilot.

Discovery Flight

NSB Discovery Flight
Sure, you can watch someone else’s Discovery Flight on YouTube, or you can watch the video your pilot makes of their own flight!

In addition to reading about flight stories, how about planning an actual flight? No aspiring pilot will be disappointed when you plan the thrill of a Discovery Flight at your local flight school. They will get to sit up front next to the pilot in command and discover the thrill of flying firsthand.

Another Perfect Day

Another Perfect Day Book
Pilots of all ages will want to take off with Jack!

Although Another Perfect Day, written and illustrated by Ross MacDonald, is a children’s picture book that is not specifically about aviation, we had to include it here. Beautifully illustrated in bright, bold colors with the look of a comic book from the 1930s or ’40s, Another Perfect Day is about Jack, who wakes up ready to begin his day as an ice cream taste-tester. Adventure after adventure, Jack does make it into an airplane just long enough to justify the book’s presence on this list. However, this book is primarily a treasure for any child of any age and especially those with an adventurous spirit.

If We Had Wings: The Enduring Dream of Flight

If We Had Wings Book
This book is a true collector’s item. The three-dimensional artifacts included in the book make reading feel like a treasure hunt.

Yes, this is another book, but it’s too special not to include on a list of great pilot gifts. Rinker Buck also authored If We Had Wings: The Enduring Dream of Flight, and this one is stunning. It’s part children’s book, part adult’s book, part history lesson, and part keepsake. It’s kind of a nice book for older and younger pilots to explore together. If We Had Wings includes detailed three-dimensional replicas of important aviation artifacts. For example, you’ll discover a wheelchart to identify World War II aircraft. You’ll also be delighted to find a perfect facsimile of Chuck Yeager’s first sound-barrier-breaking secret report. What else? Letters, diaries, tickets and other treasures waiting to be discovered. Fans of aviation history will pore over this engaging book for many happy hours.

Teddy Bear Pilot

Teddy Bear Pilot
Pilot bears are just the beginning. There are many toy pilot options.

Who doesn’t love a Teddy bear, especially when he’s dressed like a pilot? From the collectible Spirit of St. Louis Charles Lindbergh bear to a more traditional plush toy bear, these keepsake bears are sure to please. If a teddy bear is too juvenile, you might consider a Barbie pilot, a classic G.I. Jane helicopter pilot, or a G.I. Joe Air Force pilot. Of course, for infants and toddlers who you believe to be future pilots, check out this realistic baby boy pilot doll and toddler toy plane.

Board (not “bored”) Games

Pan Am Board Game
Enjoy a high stakes game of Pan Am with your favorite pilot!

Foster family fun and interaction with the gift of an aviation-themed board game. The very young will enjoy Looping Louie (ages 4 and up) as will the grandparents, at least according to the reviews. Aeroplanes: Aviation Ascendant is a fun game about the dawn of commercial aviation for ages 14 and up. PanAm: Triumph in the Golden Age of Air Travel (ages 12 and up) features a gorgeous retro style and lots of airplanes. Time travel back to the glamorous days of jet-setting. After you’ve enjoyed playing PanAm, fast forward to the future with Star Wars X-Wing (ages 14 and up). Companies like Pilot Mall and Pilot Toys also offer an assortment of games, puzzles, and toys for your junior flyer.

Techie Gifts

Flying Drone
Drone technology has really taken off – literally. Whether your pilot just likes to fly with remote controls or is into aerial photography, the technology has made this a popular gift item.

Technology can be for all ages! How about paper airplanes that are controlled by a smartphone? If your pilot is more “old school,” try this mechanical paper plane launcher. Of course, there are so many types of drones now, many for kids and even more for adults.

Inspiring Gifts

Forks in the Road by Lonnie Poole
An inspiring story can be a meaningful gift to any pilot.

Forks in the Road is a monograph published by the Boy Scouts of America about Lonnie C. Poole, Jr. – Eagle Scout, aviator, deep-sea fisherman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. This book even includes a chapter about Epic Flight Academy.

7. Customized Gifts for Pilots

Customized Gifts
You’ll be surprised at the number of customized pilot gifts you can find online!

Let’s face it, everyone loves one-of-a-kind gifts, especially if they’re personalized in some way. Now, you can hand-carve a model of your pilot’s favorite aircraft and etch their name on the fuselage, or, you can peruse these fun gifts.

Bobblehead Pilot

Custom Bobblehead Pilot
Yes, you really can create a bobblehead of your pilot!

You can forget about Dwight Schrute’s bobblehead. This custom-made bobblehead looks just like your pilot! No kidding! If this gift doesn’t get a place of honor on your pilot’s desk, we’ll just assume they don’t have a desk! Surprisingly affordable, this bobblehead comes seated in the cockpit of an airplane ready to take off! Go ahead… get one for yourself while you’re at it!

Chalk Up Some Chocks!

Personalized Pilot Chocks
There will be no confusion as to whom these customized chocks belong!

If your pilot is lucky enough to own their own aircraft, then what are you waiting for? Buy some customized chocks! These can feature the aircraft’s N number, your home base (EVB here in New Smyrna Beach!), hangar number, or whatever you like. They also come in custom colors.

“Mug” on a Mug

Personalized Pilot Mug
There are many companies that can customize a mug for your pilot. There will be no mistaking who this mug belongs to!

Your pilot probably already owns a “World’s Greatest Pilot” mug, so why not customize your pilot’s mug by putting his or her face on it? That’s a mugshot we can support! You can add their name or even a favorite pilot quote or saying. Don’t you know that coffee, tea, and milk all taste better when served in a personalized mug?

Personalized Pilot Notepads and Cards

Pilot Note Cards
Note pads and cards can be customized to suit your pilot’s personality.

Customized printing has never had so many options at affordable prices. Even if you lack basic design skills, you can easily find dozens of places online to create cards and notepads for your pilot. Many companies have templates you can work with, and you can also upload images you want to use.

You’ve Been Framed

Custom Pilot Frame
Framing that special pilot memory creates a treasured keepsake.

There are so many special milestones in a pilot’s life – first solo, passing a checkride, and so many more. Find the perfect custom frame to show off that smile and preserve a special memory. You’ll find wood, glass, and metal frames in many styles and aviation themes. Believe it or not, you can even get a frame that replicates an airplane’s portal. And whether you have the frame customized beyond “first solo” or not, when you put that special picture under the glass, it will become one-of-a-kind!

Personalized Airline Tumbler

Personalized Pilot Tumbler
These pilot tumblers come customized with your pilot’s name and the airline.

Whether your pilot flies for Delta, United, American or someone else, you can have one of these unique tumblers made with the airline of choice and your pilot’s name. Morning coffee never tasted so good!

8. Classic Pilot Gifts

Classic Gifts for Pilots
You really can’t go wrong with a classic gift. They are time-honored and “classic” for a reason.

We don’t want to assume you’ve already given these popular gifts to your pilot, so back by popular demand, here are some of the most popular gifts pilots receive.

Bomber Jacket

Leather Bomber Jacket
There are bomber jackets available for all sizes – even junior aviators!

Utterly classic, aviators from Jimmy Buffett to Harrison Ford have been spotted wearing this staple. You’ll find everything from authentic vintage jackets to fun interpretations, like the Margaritaville versions. Because these fall into the collectible category, they may be more pricey. However, their uniqueness makes them that much more special. You can also find affordable brand new leather bomber jackets as well as non-leather options for those with a preference.

Dinner and a Movie

Pilots are famous for their $100 hamburger. Surprise your pilot with dinner in an aviation setting, such as The Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge in St. Pete, FL or the Airport Restaurant & Gin Mill in DeLand, FL. There are also a few aircraft that have been turned into restaurants. After dinner, how about a movie? Whether you find them streaming or on DVD, the gift of a favorite flying movie is always appreciated. Of course, your pilot will probably be on high blooper alert to see if Hollywood got it right or wrong. But that’s half the fun!

Pilot Attire

Epic Flight Academy Jacket
Just for fun, you can even track down something from your pilot’s alma mater.

We’ve never met a pilot who didn’t appreciate a pilot t-shirt, hat, or necktie. With so many customized options available today, you can get creative. One of our favorites is a customized t-shirt showing the pilot’s favorite airport codes (LAS, MCO, OGG). Which airport codes would your pilot prefer?

Vanity License Plate

Pilot License Plate
Captain Judy Rice sports “FLI BABE” on her car, which is painted the same color as her Grumman airplane.

Vanity tags are becoming more and more popular, so you may have to get creative when ordering a customized license plate for your pilot’s car. We’ve seen fun tags on the road ranging from the obvious (PILOT) to dozens of variations on a theme (FLY GUY, FLY GAL, CLOUDS, WINGS). The possibilities are endless. Check with your state’s DMV and see what you can come up with (UP UP UP). And don’t forget the frame! Fun fact: Virginia has the highest percentage of vanity tags at 16.19%.

Another Perfect Day Illustration
A gift for any pilot is the gift of inspiration, whether it’s a book, a t-shirt, or a toy plane. Here’s to everyone’s dream of flight!

At Epic, we are surrounded by pilots, so we are constantly on the lookout for the best gifts for pilots. We’ve tried to make this the most comprehensive gift-giving guide for anyone shopping for pilots. Therefore, we will continue to update this list as we come across clever and thoughtful gifts for the flyers in your circle of friends and family. We would also love to hear your gift-giving suggestions! Let us hear from you!