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An aviator’s holiday gift guide

It’s no secret that aviators are exposed to the sun’s harmful rays at an increased rate compared with those who choose to stay firm-footed on the ground. Therefore, a high-quality, aviation-specific brand of sunglasses should be an essential part of every pilot’s personal preflight checklist. With most sunglasses being manufactured for the nonflying public, it’s often hard to find a lightweight, non-polarized pair of shades that fit comfortably under a headset for prolonged periods of time. (Polarized lenses reduce glare, which is less of an issue in the air, but they also make it difficult to clearly see certain instrument displays.) That’s where Method Seven comes in. The company’s lines of sunglasses for male and female pilots are made of lightweight materials that produce a clear and vibrant picture for those wearing them. With shades starting at $190, they are competitively priced to match other name-brand, designer shades.

The only downside to flying in to an airport or aviation event is often a lack of transportation upon landing. Whether it’s a quick fuel and lunch stop at a rural airport without a courtesy car, or a weeklong fly-in event at the vast Triple Tree Aerodrome, pilots often have to rely on others for transportation—or worse yet—their own two feet. Spencer Aircraft Supply has the perfect solution: a folding electric bike to toss into the back of a wide variety of aircraft. The Jupiter Discovery X5 bike only weighs 40 pounds and can reach a maximum speed of 16 miles per hour, making it the perfect tool for any run to the closest fast-food restaurant or to a delicious hangar dinner on the other side of the Triple Tree Aerodrome property. Although this item is one of the more expensive items on our list (at $795), we know the pilot in your life would enjoy a set of foldable wheels.

With winter upon us, it seems bomber jackets are all the rage, but really, it’s a new brand of vintage aviation clothing and warbird jackets from Barnstormer USA. “From the legendary polo shirts to the iconic jacket inspired by the [World War II] uniform, all the collections have crossed the corridors of time to make us relive and magnify aviation history with elegance and [nostalgia],” the website states. The company, which was started by a couple of French aviation enthusiasts, takes great pride in manufacturing quality pieces of historically accurate clothing that honors aviation’s past. Although there are plenty of items to pick from, our favorite article is a jacket honoring one of two remaining Curtiss P–40F Warhawks named Lee’s hope. The piece retails on the Barnstormer USA website for $195.

Another cold-weather purchase is straight from the AOPA Pilot Gear Store. Although simple, a pair of aviation-themed socks will be used time and time again. From the flight deck to an office party, you can’t go wrong with a pair of $15 windsock socks.

If the pilot in your life is a fan of all things tech, this is one item you might want to consider. Garmin’s GPS aviation smartwatch, the D2 Air, features an aviation-themed watch face made of durable glass to accompany aviators on flights, workouts, or even a day on the golf course. Complete with direct-to navigation, a pulse oximeter, weather, horizontal situation indicator course needle, airport information, altimeter, flight logging, and much more, the watch is similar to having a glass cockpit on your wrist. In addition to the watch’s aviation features, it also connects to any smartphone to keep the wearer up to date on phone calls, text messages, and emails. If connected to an Android phone, the wearer can also answer text messages directly from the watch. If you’re set on this gift, make sure to purchase the $499 watch from Aircraft Spruce’s website to ensure an arrival prior to Christmas; Garmin’s website will not have the watches ready to ship for several weeks.

If “go big, or go home” is your gift giving motto, and your gift recipient is a warbird or jet enthusiast, look no further than an introductory flight or complete aircraft checkouts from Stallion 51 at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport in Florida. The Stallion 51 fleet includes several North American P–51 Mustangs, North American T–6 Texans, and a highly modified Aero Vodochody L–39 Albatros. The Mustangs and Texans are available for orientation flights and checkouts, whereas the Albatros is available for upset recovery training. For more information on pricing, complete the contact form on the Stallion 51 website.

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