A gift for the wild blue yonder
December 15, 2011 12:51 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to buy a gift for a good friend who is a flight instructor (small planes, one-on-one with students); he hasn't been doing it all that long, and doesn't have a huge amount of personal equipment. Anything nice/fancy that is also incredibly useful to have that his employer wouldn't provide? Also, any iPad/iPhone accessories for pilots? Say anything up to $500 (or even a bit more) or so - though unless I was completely assured he'd love the gift, I'd prefer cheaper. Thanks!
posted by slide to Shopping (10 answers total)
Best answer: Whatever you need you can probably find it at Sporty's.

Maybe a nice flight bag or knee board, though they can be a big matter of personal preference.

If he doesn't yet have his own headset, he might want one. Often the ones flight schools provide aren't very good.

Is he building time to be a commercial pilot? Maybe buy him something with that in mind.
posted by bondcliff at 1:01 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Brightline flight bag is pretty amazing - it holds more than either of my old, bigger flight bags. Everyone I know who uses one loves it.
posted by exogenous at 1:19 PM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: incredibly useful to have that his employer wouldn't provide?

That would be everything except the airplane.

The iPad is being increasingly used in lieu of paper approach plates, so a kneeboard that you can mount an iPad to might be worthwhile if he brings it with him in the airplane.

There's actually not that much equipment you need for flight instruction. Things that he might need and may or may not have:
-Foggles/view limiters
-instrument obfuscators (not sure of the real name - they're essentially black rubber circles with suction cups on them to block certain instruments and simulate failures)
-Fuel strainer/dipstick
-maps and approach plates

No flight instructor I have ever had has carried more than a headset case into an airplane with me. These are small bags just large enough to hold the headset and maybe a pocket on the outside for pens and a pad of paper.

Thinking about it more, you know what I would like if I was instructing? A nice pair of sunglasses with thin metal arms so they don't break the seal on the headset cups.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:23 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The pilots in our office use iPads for topo maps, approach charts, etc. I think it costs on the order of $80, the fact you don't have to buy new ones all the time is priceless (this may be of less usefulness if all his flying is in the same geographical area)
posted by arnicae at 1:24 PM on December 15, 2011

bondcliff nailed it. Go to Sporty's.... They even have a gift guide for gifts under $500.
posted by brand-gnu at 1:43 PM on December 15, 2011

The iPad + apps idea seem great. I haven't piloted any sort of aircraft, but read a lot about them (from crop dusters to airline planes), so I am thinking that apps for flight checklists (with history), maps, etc can be very helpful.
posted by theobserver at 2:02 PM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: A nice little framed display of the poem "High Flight". Supposed to be a kind of pilots mantra and a damned fine poem too.
posted by elendil71 at 2:03 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

backseatpilot has a good idea, a pair of Ray Ban Sunglasses - the Aviator series of course!
posted by sandyp at 2:20 PM on December 15, 2011

An E6B watch.
posted by veedubya at 2:27 PM on December 15, 2011

Response by poster: I went with an iPad kneeboard, which he can exchange if he doesn't enjoy, as well as some iTunes gift cards that he can hopefully use to buy apps.

I also loved the High Flight suggestion - my grandfather, also a pilot, gave me a copy of that in bronze that he had in his office throughout is life.

Thanks for the help.
posted by slide at 9:55 AM on December 24, 2011

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