35 BEST Gifts for Pilots in 2024 [New & Experienced]

best gifts for pilots

Last updated: December 8, 2023

Short on time? Our picks for the best gifts for pilots are the Kneeboard and Lazer Engraved Leatherman.

My cousin is a pilot and I’ve found that when it comes to gifts, he loves the following: anything aviation-themed, flying gizmos, and items he can use while in a lounge or cockpit.

Something I wanted to especially focus on with this gift guide is prioritizing useful gifts to make a pilot’s life easier–from things pilots might buy for themselves to items other pilots highly recommend.

This guide includes gift ideas for every stage of a pilot’s career, including 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.

So, whether you have a pilot in the family or a new pilot boyfriend, there’s something for everyone on this list. Let’s dive in!

Looking for gifts for the whole flight crew? Check out our guide to the best gifts for flight attendants!

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
kneeboard

#1 Kneeboard

Best Gift for Pilots in Training

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.

Now 11% Off

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#2 Lazer Engraved Leatherman

Best Tool for Pilots

This isn’t just any old tool. Leatherman tools are the best tools for pilots, handymen, and outdoorsy folks. It’s 17 tools in one, and you have the option to order it engraved with intricate designs or your own text. This is the ultimate gift that they’ll cherish forever.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#3 Fuel Tester & Screwdriver

Best Stocking Stuffer for Pilots

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 luxurious gift on this list, but they make fantastic practical gifts for private pilots.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#4 Leather Pilot’s Flight Bag

Best Gift for a New Pilot

All pilots must have a flight bag. The Gan Leather Bag is a classic gift. It has a spacious lined main pocket with internal organizers and smaller outside pockets for easy access to items like pens and documents.

We recommend this bag because it’s compact with a spacious interior. It has just the right number of pockets, including a lined headset compartment.

CARTMAN 148 Piece Tool Set Gift

#5 Airplane Bottle Opener

Best Gift for Pilots Who Relax with a Beer

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.

Now 15% Off

kneeboard

#6 iPad Mini

Best Tech Gift for Pilots

Ask any pilot, and they’ll tell you that an iPad mini is essential nowadays. They’re helpful for studying, logging notes, and carrying digital charts and manuals. They’re on the pricy side, but this gift is worth every dime.

CARTMAN 148 Piece Tool Set Gift

#7 BOSE A20 Aviation Headset

Most Wanted Headset

The BOSE A20 headset is another aviation must-have. 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.

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GRAYL UltraPress Water Bottle Gift

#8 Ray–Ban Aviator Sunglasses

Best Gift for Cool Pilots

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

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#9 Flight Planning App

Best 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 this 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.

kneeboard

#10 Portable Phone Charger

Best Phone Accessory

Pilots live busy lives, and this portable power bank will save the day. In fact, backup battery packs are a safety item for pilots who use the GPS or flight apps on their phones or iPads. They’re handy on long days when pilots (and flight attendants!) arrive at new airports with low-battery gadgets. I always carry a battery pack with me. Even when I don’t need it, someone else usually does.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#11 Personalized Mug

Best Coffee Mug for Pilots

Surprise a new pilot with a personalized mug. These mugs are wrapped in colorful aviation maps. Each mug is made to order, personalized with the map of your choice. Choose a map of their hometown if they’re feeling homesick or a map that shows their favorite airport. This gift is a fun conversation starter because they’ll be able to read the map.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#12 Stanley Thermos

Best Thermos for Pilots

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.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#13 To–Go Coffee Mug

Best Coffee-Themed Gift

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. 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.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

#14 Flight Deck Pants

Durable Pants for Hardworking Pilots

These flight deck cargo pants are just what the pilot in your life needs. They’re durable, have plenty of pockets, and come in women’s and men’s sizes. These pants are perfect for new pilots who need professional gear for their exciting new careers.

CARTMAN 148 Piece Tool Set Gift

#15 Airpods

Top Pilot’s Pick

AirPods are a pilot’s best friend. Remember, pilots don’t fly 24/7. They also wait in airport lounges and sometimes catch flights as passengers. AirPods have silencing technology and 24-hour battery life so that your favorite pilot can relax in their downtime. AirPods aren’t compatible with Android products, so make sure your gift recipient is a devout Apple enthusiast.

If your giftee already has AirPods (or keeps losing them), gift them a special leather case cover to spruce up their jams.

Now 23% Off

CARTMAN 148 Piece Tool Set Gift

#16 Garmin Aviator Smartwatch 

Best Smartwatch for Pilots

Garmin 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.

Now 15% Off

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#17 Aviation Decanter

Classiest Liquor Gift

Themed decanters are popular gifts, but this decanter is unique: it comes with a custom-engraved name and date. Give this to a graduate from pilot school or a veteran 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.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#18 Fly Safe Keychain

Most Meaningful Budget Gift

Personalized gifts for pilots don’t have to break the bank. Keychains are always with us, even when we’re far from home. Write a custom message and let this keychain be a constant reminder to your favorite pilot that they’re loved.

kneeboard

#19 Amelia Earhart Wall Decor

Best Gift for Female Pilots

Is your best friend a pilot? She’ll love displaying this Amelia Earhart wall hanging. This is a male-dominated field—we have to hold each other’s words close.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

#20 Leather Passport Holder

Best Gift for International Pilots

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.

CARTMAN 148 Piece Tool Set Gift

#21 Maglite Mini Flashlight

Best Flashlight for Pilots

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.

Now 8% Off

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

#22 Pilot Candle

Funny Pilot Gift

I love giving and receiving candles as gifts. They’ll smile when they unwrap and read this candle. And they’ll think of you every time they light it.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#23 GoPro Plane Mount

Best GoPro Accessory

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.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#24 The Compleat Taildragger Pilot by Harvey S. Plourde

Best Book for Plane Nerds

I’m a sucker for a good book, and this is the best book for pilots curious about tailwheel flying—a.k.a. for your beloved airplane nerd. (P.S. Tailwheel refers to planes with their nose tipped up and a wheel under the tail.)

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#25 Pilot Socks

Best Socks for Pilots

Skip the boring white or black socks this year. Fun airplane socks are always a win. Socks are perfect gifts for any age and keep your loved ones cozy.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#26 Funny Pilot T-Shirt

Funniest Gift for Pilots with a Sense of Humor

This “World’s Okayest Pilot” T-shirt will win a warm chuckle from your dad, whether it’s Christmas or Father’s Day. This shirt is simple and soft, perfect as an undershirt or for chilling in the backyard. I recommend ordering a solid color since those are 100% cotton.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

#27 Airplane Pattern Tie

Best Gift for Pilots Who Wear Ties

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 perfect as a graduation gift for eager new pilots or as a retirement gift for pilots sad to leave the aircraft cockpit behind.

kneeboard

#28 Hangar Sign

Best Custom Wall Decor

I love buying a nice sign to tie together a room. This hangar sign works perfectly in a den, office, or garage. They’ll be extra impressed that it’s made to order and customized with their name.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#29 3D Airplane Projection Night Light

Best Gift for Kids Who Love Planes

Any airplane-obsessed kid will stare at this night light until they doze off, dreaming of flying. 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.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

#30 Pilot Water Bottle

Best Water Bottle for Pilots

Pilots prefer water bottles with straw mouthpieces because they don’t have to move their headset mic or take their eyes off the control panel. This is a triple-walled vacuum-sealed bottle with an insulated cap. It doesn’t produce condensation or leak. Cold drinks 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.

Looking for more water bottle recommendations? Read our Cirkul water bottle review and list of the top Hydro Flask alternatives.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#31 Wright Brothers Airplane Prints

Best Wall Art for Aviators

Looking for pilot gifts for an aspiring pilot?

Looking for pilot gifts for an aspiring pilot? A collection of Wright Brothers 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.

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#32 Packing Cubes

Best Packing Accessories for Frequent Flyers

We’ve tested multiple packing cubes and these eBags are the best. They’ll make any pilot’s life easier. Organizer cubes will help them fit all of their belongings into a carry-on bag when they fly. I always use packing cubes to organize my luggage. They make unpacking and repacking simple because I know where everything is.

Does your favorite pilot need new luggage? We love Beis Luggage suitcases and the Packt One Weekender Bag.

GRAYL UltraPress Water Bottle Gift

#33 Flashlight Pen

Best Amazon Stocking Stuffer

This Christmas, give a pilot a flashlight pen that uses green light instead of white light. Greenlight 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.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

#34 Heated Back and Neck Massager

Most Relaxing Gift

This is my all-time favorite gift. Everyone should have a massager, especially pilots. Flying is stressful and requires sitting for long periods of time. Help your pilot recover and feel rested for their next flight.

Now 14% Off

CamelBak Horizon Insulated Wine Bottle Gift

#35 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. 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.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mimi McFadden Headshot

Mimi McFadden
Founder & Editor-In-Chief

When it comes to gift giving, Mimi has it down to a science. With a degree in psychology, she knows that the key to a meaningful and memorable gift is a personalized approach—always paying attention to someone’s unique interests and passions. Since she was little, Mimi has wholeheartedly embraced the tradition of gift-giving. Now, she loves crafting fun gift guides to inspire others to level up their gifting game and to find that perfect gift.

Jodelle Marx
Editor & Content Manager

From homemade to luxury, Jodelle’s always scheming about the next best gifts. She even started printing her own stationery to easily brighten a friend’s day with small doses of art. Jodelle’s a sucker for surprises and loves assembling intricate care packages. She starts planning Christmas gifts months in advance so that when the holidays roll around, she’s an expert at gift-giving.


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Hi, I'm Mimi! I'm an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty that California has to offer. My goal is to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to an alpine lake in the Sierras, finding peace among the giant redwoods, or road tripping down the PCH, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.

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