Flying 2011 Gift Guide

Pilots can be tough to shop for, but if you're looking for a gift for that special aviator, you've come to the right place.

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Icon A5 ($5,000 to $139,000)
If you're looking for a more extravagant gift, how about an S-LSA amphibian? For $5,000, you can get your loved one a place in line for Icon's A5 light-sport airplane, or if you're really feeling generous, you can buy one for $139,000. But make sure the recipient of your gift is not looking for immediate gratification. The first Icons are expected to be delivered sometime toward the end of next year, and current orders won't be delivered until 2015, at the earliest. iconaircraft.com
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Air to Air Warbirds 2012 calendar ($16.95)
Paul Bowen's spectacular annual calendar features three pictures of unique warbirds for each month. One of those images is 11.5 inches by 13.5 inches, large enough to frame those that really touch your loved one. This year, the images have been digitally edited for a special vintage look. Featured warbirds include the Mustang, Hellcat, Focke-Wulf and Corsair, to name a few. airtoair.com
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SPOT Connect ($169.99)
Flying often takes pilots to remote areas where cell-phone reception can be sketchy at best. Here's a great gift if you'd like to stay in touch with your loved one. The SPOT Connect links to the Globalstar satellite network and makes any smartphone into a satellite communicator with a Bluetooth connection, a simple app and an annual subscription. While the SPOT Connect won't allow actual calls to be made, it enables text and e-mail messaging, Facebook and Twitter updates and the ability to send GPS coordinates and emergency messages. findmespot.com
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Dynon DX15 handheld transceiver ($160)
Dynon Avionics in Woodinville, Washington, says it developed the DX15 handheld transceiver to help it learn about radio design and production while developing its SkyView avionics suite for Experimentals. It turns out the company has instead taught the competition a thing or two about how to create what is perhaps the perfect backup radio. First, the DX15 is tiny. It measures just 4 inches tall, 2.25 inches wide and less than 1.5 inches thick, not including its whip antenna. So the unit is about the size of a standard deck of playing cards. Amazingly, at just 8.2 ounces, it doesn't weigh a whole lot more, either. Key features include a high-capacity rechargeable Li-Ion battery, 100 memory channels, dedicated emergency 121.5 MHz button and 25 kHz channel spacing. dynonavionics.com
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Lightspeed Zulu.2 ($900)
For that pilot in your life who puts in a lot of flying hours, there's nothing as nice as giving his noggin a break with a great headset, and the Lightspeed Zulu.2 is one of the best available. It not only boasts great comfort and quiet, but it's got lots of features too, including smart volume adjustment, enhanced audio and easy-to-set-up Bluetooth cell-phone connectivity, so your wayward aviator can easily phone home to say hi. lightspeedaviation.com
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Zaon PCAS XRX collision avoidance system ($1,495)
Most portable GPS receivers can tell you not only where you are, but also the location of dangerous terrain and obstacles and even where storms are, with an optional datalink weather subscription. But no aviation portable can also serve as a traffic avoidance system without first connecting to installed cockpit gear that can easily top $10,000. Until now, that is. The PCAS XRX portable collision avoidance system from Zaon Flight Systems provides audible and visual traffic alerts to a range of 6 nm and within 2,500 feet of your altitude, providing a "bubble of traffic awareness" (the manufacturer's wording) for a price that won't break the bank. Traffic readouts can be displayed on a variety of portable and panel-mount avionics, as well as on an Apple iPad running the iEFB app from Flight Guide. zaon.aero
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VedaloHD Azzurro sunglasses ($199)
What do you get when you combine a lightweight titanium frame made in Japan with performance eyewear lenses from Italy? In the case of VedaloHD's line of aviation sunglasses, you come away with a product that looks great, feels great and — most important — provides exceptional clarity and visual acuity inside and outside the cockpit. Available in copper-rose, smoke-gray or green tint, the Azzurro style sunglasses are VedaloHD's best-seller — and for good reason. The frames are so thin and light you'll forget you're wearing them, and the view is surreal. The secret to the Azzuro sunglasses' superior clarity is in the lens technology, which enhances colors rather than artificially tinting them. As a result, reds and oranges appear more vivid and blues and greens deeper — it's like turning up the contrast on the world. vedalohd.com
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Sporty's deluxe flight gear bag ($99.95)
For pilots who sometimes need a little extra room for carrying charts, laptops, GPS receivers, headsets or overnight items, there's probably no better choice than Sporty's deluxe flight gear bag. Besides being one of the most durable flight bags we've tested (the zipper is about as tough as they come), this top-of-the-line bag takes organization to a new level with pockets and compartments to accommodate an array of items, both big and small. Best of all, it's really three bags in one. A dual headset bag zips off for when you need to travel light, the basic bag can carry most of the gear you'll need for the typical flight, and the full flight bag is perfect for those times when you want to bring it all. sportys.com
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Apple iPad 2 ($499 to $829)
In last year's holiday gift guide, we suggested making a gift of an Apple iPad. Times have changed, however; this year, make it an iPad 2. The updated platform has all of the shiny goodness of the original but is lighter, faster, brighter and more social than ever. If you're having a hard time justifying trading in the old for the new, maybe we can help by saying that many of the best aviation apps — and there are more than ever — run even faster on Apple's latest hardware. apple.com
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GNS 5870 ($99.95)
If your gift recipient has an iPad, iPhone or iPod, the GNS 5870 is a nifty little GPS receiver that sends position reports to the iPad via Bluetooth. With all the georeferenced chart applications available, this is a great addition to the cockpit. And since it doesn't need to be connected to the iPad, it can be placed in the optimum position in the cockpit for satellite reception. Global Navigation Systems GmbH in Germany manufactures the GNS 5870. aircraftspruce.com
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Fly Navy: Celebrating the First Century of Naval Aviation ($65 to $150)
Erik Hildebrandt's book Fly Navy: Celebrating the First Century of Naval Aviation is a great gift to celebrate this year's 100th anniversary of the U.S. Navy. Through stories from people touched by the Navy and mostly his own aerial photography, Hildebrandt chronicles the history of naval aviation and what the future might hold in this spectacular 372-page book. The standard edition can be picked up for $65, while $150 gets you a nice leather-bound limited edition book. flynavybook.com
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MyClip ($39.95)
The implementation of the iPad into the cockpit has nearly made gift-giving for pilots limitless. MyClip is a clever answer to the question: "Where do I put my iPad?" This iPad kneeboard is very light and flexible, with soft rubber grips that hold the iPad firmly in place in either landscape or portrait mode. The MyClip can also be strapped on to the back of most yokes, for pilots who prefer to have the screen in front of them. tietco.com
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Casio G-Shock G8900A ($110)
Casio's G-Shock watches are all the rage again, and pilots have a wide selection from which to choose, all at bargain prices. The G-Shock G8900A is shock-resistant and water-resistant to 200 meters (656 feet) and has automatic self-illumination, LED backlighting, a flashing alarm alert, world time with nearly 48 cities and UTC time, a superaccurate stopwatch and even a mute function, so as not to wake the passengers. For an extra $30, the GR8900 adds solar power to back up its five-year battery. casio.com
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Breitling Transocean chronograph ($8,170)
For the pilot who almost has it all, the Breitling Transocean chronograph is the icing on the cake. An exquisite timepiece whose rugged good looks complement its precision engineering and classic elegance, the Transocean is both comfortable and capable. The self-winding chronograph features a stainless-steel case and scratch-resistant, glareproof sapphire crystal, as well as self-winding chronograph movements. breitling.com
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Lego City seaplane ($10.99)
Lego is sure to make your kids and grandkids smile. Just watch as your little one shakes the wrapped present and hears the unmistakable sound of 102 Lego pieces moving around inside the box. And what could be better than building a seaplane together beside the Christmas tree? Then you can open the top of the cockpit and imagine yourselves climbing in to fly off to a remote lake. The City seaplane is recommended for children between the ages of 5 and 12. lego.com
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Tilley TWA1 aviator hat ($135)
OK, we realize it's not leather, but still: This is quite possibly the hippest Tilley hat ever created. The aviation-inspired headwear from the admired Canadian hat maker has a rain- and snow-repellent wool exterior and a genuine shearling interior designed for optimum warmth. Best of all, the earflaps can be buttoned up, allowing you to clearly hear other pilots call out "Cool hat!" from across the ramp. Like all Tilley products, it's insured against loss and guaranteed for life not to wear out. The only color offered is charcoal (we'd love to see a version in dark brown), and sizes range from M (7 1⁄8) to 2XL (8). tilley.com
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Flying on the iPad ($14.99)
If your pilot, like so many of us, is joined at the hip with an iPad, then the perfect app is Flying magazine. E-readers of Flying get the entire regular issue complete with our award-winning writers and photographers, cutting-edge features, reviews, opinion and insight. In addition, the iPad edition features digital exclusive content that you won't see anywhere else. A one-year subscription is just $14.99, or you can make it a stocking stuffer and go with a single iPad issue for just $3.99. Go to the Apple iTunes app store to learn more.