Whether you are shopping for a seasoned pilot, or someone who is still dreaming of flying, this list will help to give you some ideas on what they are looking for.
1. FAA VFR Sectional Chart - This is a must have item if they are currently flying, but it also is a great conversation piece when it is mounted and hung in any office or den. They are available for any area in the United States from your local flight school, or from www.mypilotstore.com
Cost is $7.90 from www.mypilotstore.com with free shipping.
2. One Year Membership to AOPA - Joining this pilot organization offers many benefits from 12 issues of AOPA Pilot Magazine to 24 hour unlimited access to Aviation Weather and Airport information. There are also free on-line safety courses and a variety of other products and services that are available to members.
Cost is $45.00 for a full year: www.aopa.org
3. Aviator Hat - There are a lot of different caps available to show your interest in flying. AOPA, EAA, local flight schools and clubs can have unusual designs and styles. They always make a great gift and are appreciated at air shows and events where an aspiring pilot can "show their colors."
Cost is $18.95 for an autographed hat at: http://nspired.mybigcommerce.com
4. Discovery Flight - There is no better way to get an aspiring pilot hooked on flying than to get them into the cockpit! This is a gift that they will remember for a lifetime as they will take to the sky for 30 - 60 minutes and have the opportunity to take control of an aircraft. Most local flight schools offer Discovery Flights, if you don't know who to choose, go to: www.pilotjourney.com
Cost is $129.95 from www.pilotjourney.com This package includes a Certificate of Completion, a Pilot Log Book, Ground School Lessons, and much more.
5. Pulse Oximeter - This is a "must have" item for any Flight bag! The effects of low oxygen levels in the blood are usually hard to identify until they become too low. Every pilot should routinely check their blood oxygen levels, and this little gadget makes it easy and quick. Within seconds, you will know your pulse, and oxygen levels at any time, and in any place. This is a handy tool for hikers, and really anyone who has a pulse!
Cost is $99.00 from Amazon, here is the direct link: http://www.amazon.com/Nonin-GO2-Achieve-Fingertip-Oximeter/dp/B0025RDKA8/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1291052558&sr=1-1
6. One Year Membership to EAA - For the Sport Aviation enthusiast, there is no group like the Experimental Aircraft Association. A one year membership includes 12 issues of EAA Sport Aviation Magazine, searchable archives of over 50 years of aviation information, and unlimited free admission to the EAA museum.
Cost is $40.00 per year: www.EAA.org
7. Membership to Local Flight Club - EAA has local flight clubs that meet regularly to bring the pilot communities together. They may host pancake breakfasts, pot-luck lunches, Young Eagles programs, or have guest speakers. It is important to join a local club even if you are not a pilot as it surrounds you with those who have a common interest in flight.
Cost is around $25.00 - $45.00 per year for individual or family memberships. To find the Chapter nearest you, go to www.oshkosh365.org
8. Aviation Scanner - When visiting an airport to watch aircraft land and take-off, the world becomes much different when you can listen to the pilots talk to the tower, or make announcements of their intentions. This is a gift that helps pilots learn communication skills, as well as putting them in touch with the world around them. Most scanners for aircraft cover the standard frequency ranges and can be programmed for use at the same airports or airshows.
Cost is $99.99 for the Radio Shack 200-Channel VHF/Air/WX/UHF Scanner: www.radioshack.com There are quite a few models available from many retailers, so be sure to find one that has good range, and is easy to program.
9. Aviator Watch - To be a pilot, you have to act like a pilot, think like a pilot, and look like a pilot. One of the key tools of a pilot, is an accurate, reliable, and easy to read watch. There are many watches that say they are "for pilots" but the perfect aviator watches are designed by, and used by pilots. Look for features such as shock resistance, illuminated dial or hands, water resistance, second hand, and easy to set functions.
Cost is typically $199.00 to $500.00 but can vary by brand and features. One brand that I have personally tested and highly recommend is the Swiss made Torgoen watch. Available at: http://nspired.mybigcommerce.com
10. Flight Bag - Every, and I mean EVERY pilot needs a Flight Bag. An average flight bag will transport everything from headsets, charts or navigation computers, tools, a calculator, pens, arm or knee boards, keys, fuel tester, energy bars, water, etc...etc. It is an item that will become a part of the pilot in many ways. A good flight bag will be well constructed, have many pockets or dividers, and will have an adequate amount of space to supply the requirements of the pilot.
Cost is anywhere from $39.99 for a tote type bag to larger roll on bags that can average $200.00. Available at a variety of retailers including Sporty's, http://sportys.com/PilotShop