Looking for last-minute gift ideas for pilots? Do you have something you can sell to family members who are searching for gift ideas for their pilot relatives? While I am biased on the subject, I believe some of the best gifts are aviation-related.
Flight training providers can play a special role in helping to choose gifts for those who are learning to fly, or might just be considering it. A few gift ideas that a business can provide or recommend to a customer might also further the recipient’s passion for aviation, flight training, or even a career. Some of the suggestions I’m about to share will help generate revenue for your business.
Introductory rides: Lots of people think about introductory flights, but too few give them. Offer introductory rides for customers and their families. Be sure to present a logbook to the recipient along with the ride so they can start logging their first flight time.
Gift certificates/gift cards: The ability to help a pilot refill a flight account—even in small increments—can go a long way. Your customers can suggest to Grandma to give them a $50 gift card to put on their flight account—better than yet another ugly cardigan. Gift certificates or cards that a customer can recommend as gifts or purchase for others can help a pilot who is learning to fly on a budget to keep flying for a few extra lessons.
Magazine subscriptions: An aviation magazine subscription or two can offer information and motivation throughout the rest of the year. Cool photos, new product reviews, and stories from the aviation community are just a few things a pilot will appreciate.
Specialty aircraft experiences: If your business operates any special aircraft—perhaps a T-6 or a Stearman, for example—the gift-giving season can be a great opportunity to remind customers that you offer unique aircraft experiences. If you don’t offer them, it might be a good opportunity to set up a special partnership with someone in your area who does, and share the profit. Learning to fly in a typical GA aircraft is great, but a little variety and experience in a special aircraft can create lasting memories (and keep building a customer’s excitement and engagement).
Training apps or iTunes gift cards: Many pilots use apps on their smartphones or tablets to study as they train. Build a list of recommended apps that a pilot can reference and provide family or friends with gift ideas. Customers not only get something they want, but their gift also helps further their training. If you don’t want to pick specific apps, just the recommendation of an iTunes gift card is a great idea—the recipient can choose the app.
Association memberships: OK, I am biased here too, but a membership in AOPA (or other aviation association) is a great way to get a pilot or prospective pilot into the community. Most associations have digital and print publications that will keep information flowing throughout the year and offer motivation, training information, or just some cool flying stories that any pilot would love.
While the holiday season isn’t just about giving gifts, the businesses that provide flight training can get in on the commercial side of the season and help their students. They can even make a little extra profit.
Jason Blair is a designated pilot examiner and flight instructor. He has served as executive director of the National Association of Flight Instructors.
In the spirit of giving, CFIs can sign up their students for a free, six-month membership in AOPA that entitles them to six issues of Flight Training magazine and additional benefits (log-in required).