The 7 Best Professional Pilot Gifts

Know someone who's in the aviation industry? Surprise them with a great present

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Coming up with a great gift idea for a pilot can be tough. You want to get something thoughtful and useful without it being overly cheesy. Some of the best gifts for professional pilots are things they can use to make their jobs easier. Pilots spend a lot of time in the air, in and out of airports, so having their essentials covered can save time and effort in getting things done. Below, you’ll find a variety of useful gift ideas for professional pilots, including sunglasses, kneeboards for writing, aviator shirts and more. So keep reading to buy the perfect gift that they're sure to appreciate.

Best Overall: Flyboys F-16 Viper IFR/VPR Pilot Kneeboard

Flyboys F-16 Viper IFR/VPR Pilot Kneeboard
 Courtesy of Amazon

Because there’s a steering wheel where most professionals have a desk, pilots use their laps to write. A kneeboard helps pilots keep tables, phones and other accessories easily accessible and make it easier to write on their laps during flight. The clipboard area is eight by five inches and the full length of the kneeboard is nine inches. It tri-folds to make it easier to store when it’s not in use.

Flyboys F-16 Viper IFR/VPR Pilot Kneeboard comes in four different colors – black, desert tan, navy blue and olive green. You can choose the color of the kneeboard you gift based on whether your pilot flies commercial or military. It includes seven eyelets that can be used for securing checklists, plastic pages, tools or an in-flight guide. Pilots can simply clip a loose leaf ring (sold separately) through the eyelet and attach it to their charts and other essentials to keep them close by. An adjustable strap keeps the kneeboard firmly in place throughout the entire flight.

Most Unique: LED Pilot Pen

Pilots have to do a fair bit of writing. You can imagine it’s pretty tough to see in the cockpit between sunset and sunrise. That’s what makes the LED Pilot pen such a great gift for professional pilots. While it looks like an ordinary, everyday pen, the LED Pilot Pen has a built-in flashlight at the tip of the pen to light up the page. The pen can double as a small flashlight just by retracting the pen. It’s perfect for reading notes, checking a map or for looking through the lift bag.

With a life of over 100,000 hours, the pen will last through many flights. The set includes a set of three extra ink cartridges to extend the life of the pen. It also comes with an instruction manual to show your pilot how to change out the ink cartridges and batteries. Pilots can never have too many pens or flashlights, so the LED Pilot Pen is the best of both.

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Most Useful: Van Heusen Short Sleeve Aviator Shirt

A classic professional pilot shirt is always a must-have for pilots. Commercial pilots can never have too many. Made from 65 percent polyester and 35 percent cotton, the Van Heusen Short Sleeve Aviator shirt is a favorite among commercial pilots. It’s machine washable, so it’s easy to take care of. The spread collar gives the shirt a more modern look, while still maintaining the proper level of professionalism. Two flap pockets with a pencil slot are situated on the front of the shirt, making it easy to store items for quicker access. The extra long tail keeps the shirt tucked in even with the extra movements throughout the airport and in and out of the plane’s cockpit.

Best for Carrying Essentials: Flight Outfitters Lift Bag

Being able to carry all the essentials is key for pilots. Having a bag that holds all those essentials without taking up a ton of space is just as important. The Flight Outfitters Lift Bag is the perfect combination of compact utility, allowing pilots to carry everything they know they need plus the extra things they may need. It includes several sections and pockets for storing and organizing accessories. On the outside, there are pockets for holding a water bottle, fuel tester and charges. The inside includes a fleece-lined electronic accessories pocket, plus four mesh organizers that are perfect for holding cables and other charging cords. There’s even a fleece-lined pocket for storing a headset. The adjustable shoulder strap makes the Flight Outfitters Lift Bag easily to carry.

Best Electronic: Garmin VIRB Ultra 30

The Garmin VIRB Ultra 30 is the perfect gift for a pilot who loves to capture in-flight footage. Or one who wants to capture adventures between flights. The action camera is lightweight, waterproof and easy to use. It captures spectacular 4K/30fps videos and even includes features that can overlay gauges and graphs on top of action data. Built-in stabilization ensures steady footage, even when the camera itself isn’t in the most stable position. The recording is voice controlled, so your pilot can stop and start recordings and even take pictures with simple commands. It includes a 1.75-inch LCD touchscreen display that shows what’s being recorded, even when the camera is inside the waterproof case (a waterproof case is included). Users can even share their video directly to YouTube with the touch of a button.

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Best for Simplicity: ASA KB 1 VFR Kneeboard

Some pilots like to keep it simple when it comes to kneeboards. The ASA KB-1 VFR Kneeboard is just that. The durable brushed aluminum kneeboard provides what’s most important – a strong, hard surface for in-flight note taking. A 1-1/2-inch wide elastic band can be used to hold the kneeboard to the pilot’s leg. Velcro fasteners allow the kneeboard to be adjusted without having to remove the entire board. It includes a pen/pencil holder on the ​leg band for easy access and quick note taking. The board includes a 4-3/4-inch wide metal clip that holds charts and necessary papers firmly in place without them accidentally falling out. Essential information is printed directly on the kneeboard itself for quick reference.

Best for Eye Protection: AO Eyewear Original Sunglasses

AO Eyewear is one of the most recognizable names in aviation glasses and the Original Sunglasses are the same ones worn by Neil Armstrong when he took his famed trip to the moon. Since then, military and commercial pilots have favored the AO Eyewear Original Sunglasses for several decades. Because they’re constantly flying at high altitudes, pilots are exposed to higher levels of UV light, which can be dangerous for eyesight. This means that the right sunglasses are important not only for protecting the eyes​ but also for ensuring there’s no distortion in vision. The frames are rugged and sturdy and the glass lenses are distortion free and offer 100 percent UV protection. This 55mm frame fits medium sizes faces the best. Choose a frame color in matte chrome, gold or silver.

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