35 Best Gifts for Pilots [At Every Stage of Their Career]

best gifts for pilots

Short on time? Our top picks for the best gifts for pilots are the Leather Pilot’s Flight Bag and Aviation Decanter.

Boost your holiday game and delight the pilot in your life with the best gifts for pilots, from newbie fliers to seasoned professionals.

We all have that family member or friend who spends their days in the cockpit of an aircraft. 

My cousin is a pilot. I grew up playing hide and seek or swimming in the lake with my other cousins, and buying gifts for them has always been easy. But my pilot cousin deserves gifts tailored to his love of flying. 

When the holidays roll around, surprise the pilot in your life with aviation-themed gifts that speak to their soul. 

In this gift guide, I prioritize practical airplane gifts that will make a pilot’s life easier–from things that pilots might buy for themselves to items that other pilots highly recommend.

There’s something for everyone, including pilot gifts for aspiring pilots in training. Flight school is expensive enough; you’ll brighten their day with supplies that they’d otherwise have to buy for themselves. 

I’ve also found gift ideas for life-long pilots who already have their flying equipment dialed in.

Maybe they spend a lot of time away from home, or on the flip side, they’re retiring soon and about to spend a lot more time at home. Whatever the case, I have the best gifts for pilots of all varieties.

This gift guide also includes large, small, luxurious, and mundane presents to fit every price point. Let’s dive in!

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

two pilots in airliner cockpit ready to takeoff

#1 Leather Pilot’s Flight Bag

leather pilot’s flight bag

All pilots must have a flight bag–go with this leather one for a classic gift.

The Gan Leather Bag has a spacious lined main pocket with internal organizers and smaller outside pockets for easy access to items like pens and documents. The radio receiver pocket even has a cutout for the antenna.

I like this bag because it’s compact but has enough interior room to store extra items. 

Your favorite pilot won’t feel limited by the over-organization that some flight bags have. They’ll also be grateful for the lined headset compartment.

#2 Kneeboard

kneeboard

Kneeboards are a fantastic gift for pilots in training. 

With the Flyboys kneeboard, a pilot in flight training has easy access to their paperwork and pens for jotting down notes and meter readings. 

There’ll be no more pens rolling around the cockpit or papers sliding off their knee. This kneeboard is a practical gift that any aspiring pilot will appreciate.

#3 BOSE A20 Aviation Headset

bose a20 aviation headset

Another aviation must-have is the BOSE A20 headset. Many pilots buy their own headsets during flight training, but aviation headsets aren’t cheap.

Save a student pilot a shopping trip (and some money) by gifting them their first set.

That first flight with a new headset is like test-driving your first car—no more sweaty earphones or a microphone full of spit from the last student.  

The BOSE A20 headset has 30% more noise reduction, which makes it a great gift for helicopter pilots as well.

#4 Ray–Ban Aviator Sunglasses

ray–ban aviator sunglasses

Sunglasses are always a great gift for pilot friends. The classic aviator shades by Ray–Ban look cool and protect pilots’ eyes while flying. 

Be sure to purchase non-polarized glasses because some screens in the cockpit give off polarized light.

The anti-glare effect of polarized lenses can inhibit a pilot’s ability to see their controls while flying.

#5 Flight Planning App

flight planning app

If you don’t know up from down, don’t worry about buying expensive tech gadgets and toys for your favorite pilot. 

Keep it simple and go for the Garmin Pilot app, which allows for flight planning on the pilot’s preferred device, such as a phone, tablet, or other Garmin aviation equipment.

Combine this app with the below backup battery for use on long flights.

If you’re a fan of Garmin, check out our complete list of the best Garmin watches for women.

#6 Portable Phone Charger

portable phone charger

A pilot lives a busy life, and this portable power bank will save the day when they’re short on time or disoriented in a new airport. 

Likewise, a portable power bank is handy for flight attendants and anyone whose phone needs a cup of coffee. 

Backup battery packs are a safety item for pilots who use the GPS or flight apps on their phones or iPads.

I always carry a battery pack with me. Even when I don’t need it, someone else usually does.

#7 Personalized Mug

personalized mug

Did anyone here watch The Office? Celebrate a new pilot just out of flight school with a fun, personalized mug. 

Order a special coffee mug with your favorite pilot’s face on it and enjoy their reaction when they see it. 

If goofy gifts aren’t your style, order a mug with a lovely family portrait and a sweet message.

A busy, jet-setting pilot might appreciate seeing their family whenever they take a sip of coffee. 

Each mug is designed at the time of order and shipped from the US in custom styrofoam packaging to ensure safe shipment. 

I don’t know about you, but the most important thing when I buy a mug is that it can go in the microwave to make hot chocolate in winter.

These mugs are a standard 11 ounces and can go straight into the dishwasher or microwave.

#8 Stanley Thermos

stanley thermos

You can’t go wrong with a classic Stanley thermos. These trusty thermoses are vacuum sealed to keep coffee or hot water from cooling off anytime soon. 

Now the bush pilot in your life can take grandma’s hot homemade soup on their next adventure and enjoy hot beverages from the air.

#9 To–Go Coffee Mug

to–go coffee mug

How many pilots have you seen power walking through the airport on their way to their next flight?

And how many student pilots groan when they wake up at the butt-crack of dawn for a morning exam? 

This laser-engraved to-go coffee mug is the perfect gift for your flight instructor friend, sister, or dad, as it’s excellent for anyone constantly on the move and needing an extra boost.

The stainless steel structure can withstand a few dings (no promises if it falls out of a plane, uh–oh!). And laser engraving means that the name and emblem will never rub off.

#10 Flight Deck Pants

flight deck pants

These flight deck cargo pants are just what the pilot in your life needs. 

I’m always hesitant to recommend apparel gifts because no one likes pretending to thank grandma for the sweater they will never wear. 

Don’t worry; these pants are for working in, so they’re sure to be a hit for your pilot loved one.

They’re durable, have plenty of pockets, and come in women’s and men’s sizes.

#11 Airpods

airpods

The pilot in your life will appreciate the 24-hour battery life and high-quality sound of Airpods. Pilots work long hours, and their earbuds need to too. 

During their free time, they can share sound between two sets of Airpods, an excellent feature for watching in-flight movies with friends.

No more sticking someone else’s gross right earbud in your ear for half the movie.

Airpods use Bluetooth, so they’re perfect for listening to podcasts, talking on the phone, and jamming out during workout sessions. 

They’re also water and sweat-resistant—no need to worry about getting caught in the rain during their next trip to Thailand.

Second-generation Airpods are compatible with Apple devices from the iPhone 8 onward. However, they aren’t compatible with Android products, so make sure your gift recipient is a devout Apple enthusiast.

#12 Airpods Leather Case

airpods leather case

Show your pilot love by turning a new pair of Airpods into a classic gift with a leather case. Each custom leather covering slides over the Airpod case to display your friend’s initials. 

The clip on the back will attach the case to a backpack so that it’s always where they expect after a long day.

This case is the perfect gift for pilots who don’t want their AirPods mixing up with their cabin crew’s Airpods.

#13 Garmin Aviator Smartwatch 

garmin aviator smartwatch

Garmin’s D2 Mach 1 Smartwatch is explicitly designed for aviators, and it has everything from GPS to weather forecasts to a pulse oxygen sensor. 

This watch comes at a steep price, but hey–gift giving isn’t always about the money, right?

It syncs with other Garmin gadgets to log flight data and display airport information.

Plus, the pulse oxygen sensor helps pilots monitor their oxygen levels while flying without needing a separate gadget. 

#14 Aviation Decanter

aviation decanter

Themed decanters are popular gifts, but this decanter is unique: it comes with a custom-engraved name and date. 

Give this to an aviation lover when they graduate from pilot school or to honor their military service.

The decanter comes in an elegant wooden box, perfect for sending directly to your gift recipient if you live on the other side of the world. The decanter will look classy in a study or at-home bar. 

This set also comes with whiskey stones, which keep drinks cold without watering down precious liquor.

My friend is a big whiskey drinker and always uses whiskey stones. If the pilot in your life hasn’t jumped on board with whiskey stones, you can be the first to show them.

#15 Fuel Tester & Screwdriver

fuel tester & screwdriver

Fuel testers are perfect stocking stuffers for pilots. This built-in screwdriver consolidates space and is always there. 

Fuel testers are essential for checking the fuel quality after filling up at a new airport before flying off.

They may not be the most fun gift on this list, but they make fantastic practical gifts for private pilots.

#16 Fly Safe Keychain

fly safe keychain

If you’re looking for personalized gifts for pilots, consider a keychain. Keychains are always with us, even when we’re far from home. 

Let this be a constant reminder to your favorite pilot that they are loved. 

It comes in silver, gold, pink gold, and black with customizable text.

Write a sweet note like “Fly safe and come home soon” or a fun and goofy inside joke like “Remember to brush your teeth. I want a minty fresh kiss when you get home.”

#17 Amelia Earhart Wall Decor

amelia earhart wall decor

Looking for the best gift for female pilots? She will love displaying this Amelia Earhart wall hanging that reads, “Use your fear: it can take you to the place where you store your courage.” 

It’s the perfect women’s empowerment home decor for a subtle yet meaningful reminder of a fellow female pilot.

#18 Leather Passport Holder

leather passport holder

A pilot who travels the world needs an organized place to store their passport and vaccination cards. I like Paigi leather products because they’re handcrafted by artisan leather workers. 

It’s also imperative to have a passport holder with RFID-blocking materials so that scammers can’t scan the contents of the billfold. 

#19 Airplane Bottle Opener

airplane bottle opener

No one wants their pilot drinking while in the air, so this gift is for off-the-job use only. 

An airplane bottle opener adds a fun, personalized touch to dinners and barbeque parties. This is the perfect aviation gift for pilots who like to kick back and enjoy a cold one on their days off.

#20 Maglite Mini Flashlight

maglite mini flashlight

This mini Maglite is small but mighty. It has 332 lumens and shines for 172 meters. Plus, the aluminum casing has a satisfying weight. 

The water-resistant seals mean pilots don’t have to worry about losing light while working in the rain. In other words, no more moisture warnings on their phone!

#21 Personalized Pilot Ornament

personalized pilot ornament

When I first saw one of these pilot ornaments, I was overwhelmed by how special they could be. 

This ornament is a great gift for new pilots who might feel homesick as they fly. It’s also a meaningful gift for anyone who lost a loved one who was a pilot. 

The ornament comes personalized with the pilot’s name printed on it.

#22 GoPro Plane Mount

go pro plane mount

Okay, this next gift is for the pilot friend who wants to become TikTok famous. Now they can film their flights and share the view from way up high. 

Attaching and detaching the mount is as easy as tightening a wingnut. It requires no tools, and the mount can sustain 400 pounds of pressure. 

The most genius part (in my opinion) is that rubber washers absorb vibrations so that the camera doesn’t shake while the plane is in the air.

#23 Leather Pilot’s Log

leather pilot’s log

Gift your favorite pilot a leather pilot’s log if they still log their flights by hand. 

Pilot gifts can get quite spendy, and this leather case is no exception. However, anything leatherbound is an elegant choice when shopping for a classy aviator.

It has all of the pockets a pilot can possibly dream of while maintaining a sleek silhouette for slipping into their flight bag.

#24 Pilot Socks

pilot socks

Special aviation socks are a great pilot gift because they remind your favorite pilot that you love them. This four-pack of socks has tiny airplanes and comes in four different colors. 

Your pilot will feel special every day, and their feet will be cozy.

#25 Funny Pilot T-Shirt

funny pilot t-shirt

Looking for funny aviation gifts for him? This “World’s Okayest Pilot” T-Shirt will win a warm chuckle on father’s day. 

This shirt is simple and soft. I recommend ordering a solid color since those are 100% cotton.

#26 Airplane Pattern Tie

airplane pattern tie

Okay, so you gifted one pilot friend socks and gave another aviation lover the funny T-Shirt. Now it’s time for Tie Tuesday. This necktie printed with small planes will add personality to any suit. 

It’s the perfect retirement gift for a pilot who’s sad to leave the aircraft cockpit behind.

#27 Kid’s Aviator Hat

kid’s aviator hat

Looking for unique Christmas gifts for pilots who have a few years of growing to do before they get to sit in the cockpit? 

Young aspiring pilots will love zooming around the playground in this adorable aviator hat. It comes complete with earmuffs and false goggles. 

This aviator hat could also be a sweet gift for a kid with a pilot parent.

#28 3D Airplane Projection Night Light

3d airplane projection night light

Call me a sap, but I picture this plane night light on a child’s bedside table.

They’d look at it every night before bed and imagine one of their parents up in the air, flying across the world. 

If that image is too cliche, gift it to a student pilot or aviation nerd who’ll appreciate a 3D optical illusion. The lamp functions by shining blue LED lights through a 2D transparent acrylic plate. 

It’s safe for kids’ rooms as it never gets hot. The little ones can poke at this pretend hologram as much as they want and not get hurt.

#29 Pilot Water Bottle

pilot water bottle

I’m a sucker for a good water bottle, but this is not your average drinking vessel; this is a triple-walled vacuum-sealed bottle with an insulated cap.

The extra thick wall ensures that the bottle doesn’t sweat, so pilots don’t have to worry about getting their fingers wet after drinking water. 

Cold drinks will stay cold for 36 hours, and hot beverages will stay hot for 13 hours.

In other words, coffee and water will always be the right temperature, no matter how long the plane ride is.

#30 Wright Brothers Airplane Prints

wright brothers airplane prints

Looking for pilot gifts for an aspiring pilot?

A collection of Wright Brother’s aircraft diagrams is one of the best gifts for pilots in training who have already spent all of their money on practical things. 

These prints are great gifts for flight students who need a little more home decor to help them feel settled in their new apartment. 

#31 Packing Organizer Cubes

packing organizer cubes

Packing cubes are a traveler’s best friend, including the pilot in your life.

These organizer cubes are the best gift for airline pilots who must pack all their belongings into a carry-on bag when they fly. 

They’re made with super durable water-repellent nylon and mesh tops. Dirty clothes can stay separate from clean garments without growing weird smells in ziplock bags. 

I always use packing cubes to organize my luggage. They make unpacking and repacking simple because I know where everything is. 

#32 Flashlight Pen

flashlight pen

This Christmas, gift a pilot with a flashlight pen that uses green light instead of white light. Green light beams help preserve night vision with a less drastic change in dark settings. 

This pen is one of the best quick-to-order Amazon gifts for pilots who need a little stocking stuffer to come in handy on the job.

The pen is sleek and durable, no bigger than a regular pen. The light is on the cap, which comes off so that the pilot can write with one hand and hold the flashlight with the other if needed. 

Otherwise, the cap fits on the pen, so the light shines across the page, illuminating maps, charts, and notes.

#33 Aviation Throw Pillowcase

aviation throw pillowcase

How cute is this pillowcase?! It’s the perfect wedding gift for the pilot in your life who already has enough kitchen gadgets and techy toys. Give them a newlywed gift that will add a spark of personality to their sofa.

The first link is to the black and white aviation case, which is 55% linen and 50% cotton. 

Be sure to click the second link and order a pillow for inside the case. No one wants to receive a pillowcase without the pillow!

#34 Sterling Silver Airplane Earrings

sterling silver airplane earrings

The pilot in your life will feel special wearing these fun airplane earrings. 

Heck, they’re the perfect gift for anyone who likes traveling or flying, regardless of whether or not they sit in the cockpit of the aircraft. 

The attached card reads, “Keep flying high.” 

You can also have the cotton bag they come in stamped with the recipient’s name. Personalizing the bag is only a few extra dollars and bumps these sterling silver earrings to the next level.

#35 Kindle Paperwhite e-Reader

kindle paperwhite e-reader

Kindle e-Readers are some of the best gifts for pilots and flight attendants who want to read when they’re not flying but don’t want to carry around a bulky paper book. 

I know, I know, there’s something nice about reading a soft-cover book with the spine folded back on itself.

Hear me out, though: Airline crews are always on the move when they’re on the job.

They can download new books onto their kindle from anywhere in the world and even check books out for free from most US libraries. 

No worries if a flight attendant wants to read without disturbing the person sitting next to them. The paperwhite e-reader is backlit for reading at night. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jodelle Marx

Jodelle Marx is an artist and writer, adventure seeker, and collaborator. She hikes, swims, chases after her dog, and hums off-tune. When Jodelle is not nerding out about traveling, she is probably working on a community project or performing spoken word poetry.


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35 Best Gifts for Pilots [At Every Stage of Their Career]

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