Running out of time to order aviation gifts for a pilot or aviation enthusiast and receive it in time for the holidays? Here are some last-minute gift ideas you can find online or at general retailers and home improvement stores near you to help you fill stockings.
Gift cards. You can’t go wrong with a gift card to a pilot’s favorite aviation retailer like Sporty’s Pilot Shop, PilotMall.com, PilotShop.com, Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Co., Harbor Freight, Aviation Supplies and Academics, or AOPA Pilot Gear Store.
Training opportunities. What better present to give a pilot or prospective pilot than the gift of flight? Call flight schools to inquire about introductory flights or advanced training packages. Or, consider purchasing training materials for the person based on his or her training goals in the new year. Either visit a local flight school to purchase printed materials or go online to aviation education providers to purchase access to their online courses.
Aviation association membership. Consider gift membership in aviation associations like AOPA, the Experimental Aircraft Association, National Business Aviation Association, Recreational Aviation Foundation, or other groups. This helps the pilot stay actively involved in the aviation community and up to date on the latest developments in general aviation.
Personal locator beacon. Check out 406-MHz personal locator beacons that pilots can carry with them in whatever aircraft they are flying. In addition to aviation-specific stores, you can visit your local camping supply store like REI to purchase one and avoid the delay of shipping.
Aviator sunglasses. If it’s too late to order sunglasses from an aviation-specific eyewear store, check out the offerings from your local eye care providers. Aviator sunglasses are in fashion, so they will be easy to find. Do a little homework in advance to determine whether the person prefers polarized or non-polarized lenses for flying.
Aviation-themed movies. The holidays are a perfect time to kick back and watch inspiring aviation-related movies. Some releases include Right Footed, a documentary about Jessica Cox who was born without arms and learned to fly; Flying the Feathered Edge: The Bob Hoover Project; Living in the Age of Airplanes; and One Six Right. These titles can be purchased online, but if you are concerned about shipping, each is available on iTunes. Also, AOPA members can get a special discount for Legends of Air Power.
Flashlights. A pilot can never have too many flashlights. They are useful for inspecting nooks and crannies in the aircraft as well as for preflighting at night. Aviation-red lights are helpful in the cockpit at night. Check the camping section at general retailers to find flashlights the pilot can wear on his or her head that have red lights.
Multipurpose tool. A Leatherman fits easily inside flight bags and is handy for pilots. General retailers and home improvement stores are good places to find these.
Earplugs. Some pilots wear earplugs under their over-the-ear headsets to offer more hearing protection. Earplugs also come in handy for hanging around the airport when loud aircraft may be operating or at airshows in the summer. Packages with more than one pair are available at many general retailers.
Pens. Pilots always carry pens for copying clearances, filling in logbooks, or completing other paperwork duties. Some have certain brands or colors that they prefer to use. Do a little investigation and surprise the pilot with a pack of his or her favorite pens to keep him or her well stocked into the new year.
Batteries. Flashlights, noise-canceling headsets, pulse oximeters, and other gadgets pilots use every day in the cockpit require batteries. Pick up a few packs with different sizes for the pilot to stock his or her flight bag.
Oil. You might need to go to the fixed-base operator at your local airport to get this one, but a case of oil would no doubt be a welcome gift. If you don’t already know the type of oil the pilot uses, a little investigation is in order so that you pick up the right case.
Portable survival/first aid kit. A lightweight survival, emergency, or first aid kit is something handy to keep in the aircraft. Kits at camping and general stores provide a good base for items that would be important for pilots.