Land the best holiday gifts for AvGeeks
If you have an AvGeek on your holiday shopping list, finding that perfect gift is tricky. But not to worry — you won't have to wing it!
TPG has compiled a list of items crafted for aviation lovers — these unique AvGifts are wearable, watchable and collectible and are sure to lift your AvGeek's holiday spirits. Here are 10 gift suggestions for the AvGeek in your life, with prices ranging from economy to first class:
JustPlanes video set
One thing that never changes as AvGeeks get older is the pressing urge to sit up front and watch pilots prep, fly and land an airliner. JustPlanes video sets bring you hours of detailed action on the flight deck, including interviews with pilots, preflight preparations, postflight and shutdown procedures, and of course, multi-camera coverage of passenger and cargo flights. These videos showcase airlines across the world, from Turkish 777s to LATAM A350s, and put you in the cockpit alongside flight and cabin crew.
Previews of the stunning footage are available on the JustPlanes YouTube page, but for the real deal, you should buy the feature-length films, which run between two and three hours. It's a serious treat, trust us, and your plane-loving friend or relative will love you for it. Don't be mad if they insist you watch it with them (or more realistically, kick you out to watch it by themselves). Buy: JustPlanes, $30 per video.
Boeing 747 Window Clock
Hang a piece of a classic airliner in your home. Fashioned from the fuselage of a Boeing 747, these custom-made window sections have been cut, shaped, cleaned, sanded and polished to produce a clock that tells a story as much as it tells time. This sleek metal clock with a black face and yellow hands will help you keep track your daily departures -- to avoid delays. Buy: Plane Industries, €400 (about $440)
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
Give someone the gift of flight, at least virtually. The Microsoft Flight Simulator, a "game" that's been around since 1982, is the preeminent PC-compatible platform for flight enthusiasts and AvGeeks alike. The last major release was in 2006 (Microsoft Flight Simulator X, colloquially referred to as FSX), and "simmers" and developers have been stretching the platform ever since, creating highly realistic imagery of global scenery and airports and nearly perfect recreations of commercial jets, letting you virtually fly planes like the pros. Next year, Microsoft will be releasing FSX's true successor, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.
For those interested in immersion, this new sim, using Microsoft Bing maps to create hyper-realistic environments with accurate 3-D models everywhere on earth, plus realistic clouds, atmospheric lighting, aerodynamics and more, will be something wild. Yes, you will be able to find your house on this next-generation virtual earth.
While there will likely be "missions" and objective-oriented tasks like other flight video games, make no mistake: this is a simulator. Gift this to someone who will enjoy flying for the sake of flying any aircraft, from small props to giant jets. Take it from someone who's been flying simulators since middle school, this is will be so cool, especially if bundled with the right hardware. Buy: Price TBD, learn more at flightsimulator.com ahead of the mid-2020 release
An airplane meal trolley turned home bar cart
After many trips down the aisle, an airline service trolley might be put to good use in an AvGeek's household as a bar cart that stands apart from the rest. Aviation enthusiasts would enjoy drinks served from of one of these bad boys. Converted from authentic airline carts, some trolleys have been remodeled inside and out; others are bare bones, as if they had been grabbed from an airplane boneyard and promptly listed online. Serve up your holiday party cocktails from an airline trolley and order as many gin and tonics as you'd like, free of charge (bottles not included). Buy: Etsy, $425 to $1,600
High-fidelity plane models
Airplane models are an AvGeek's simple pleasure and airspotters.com produces some of the finest, featuring a robust collection of civilian and military planes spanning the decades. A far cry from the toys found at your local airport, these hand-painted replicas cost as much as $300, but they are scale models that feel worthy of their price, and are more than deserving of shelf or desk space, in the office or at home. Classic and classy. What more can we say? Some minor assembly may be required. Buy: airspotters.com, $30 to $300
Aviator Wing Desk
The Aviator Wing Desk is possibly the coolest (and most expensive) item on this list. Inspired by World War II fighter planes, its polished aluminum patchwork surface with steel screw accents is built on a hardwood frame. This large desk is actually quite a bit more affordable than my personal favorite airplane-inspired furniture. It is sturdy, useful and unique. We've had one in the TPG office for years, and it never fails to impress whenever I sit down and use its large surface area to work. For something truly special, look no further than the Aviator Wing Desk. Buy: Restoration Hardware, $3,385
Airport signs (and much more)
Airport signs, wind cones and lights direct the movements of hundreds of thousands of airplanes every day. Wouldn't it be cool to have one in your backyard? This collection of FAA-certified (read: not models) airport equipment is sold by Flight Light, a company founded in 1993 to "supply robust, rugged, and cost-effective airfield, helipad and obstruction lighting products to commercial, private and military customers worldwide." A global supplier of lighting and signage for the aviation industry, these are meant for the professionals.
As you'd expect, these items are quite expensive, but it would surely be the talk of the town. Seriously, you should chat with your neighbors and local community board if you're planning to install an airport-rated strobe light on your roof. Note: not all products will be sold to civilians. Buy: Flightlight.com, call for a quote
Drown out the aircraft cabin din for a more enjoyable flight experience using the best noise-canceling headphones around. The Sony WH-1000MX3 headphones are comfortable, well designed and highly effective at canceling out low-frequency sounds (i.e., jet engines). Adjust volume and playback, answer calls and more with the swipe and/or tap of the right ear while in bluetooth mode. At nearly $350, this equipment isn't cheap, but you can tell their quality immediately.
AvGeeks and frequent travelers will particularly appreciate the nifty "ambient sound" feature that uses the headphones' built-in microphone to amplify nearby sounds — a feature that can be temporarily be activated by holding your palm over the right ear so when the flight attendants come by for your drink order, you'll hear what they say on the first go. Buy: Amazon.com (as of 11/6/2019 9:30am EST — Details)
Take a journey back in time to when airline posters resembled art more than advertisements. Spruce up your wall, dorm or office with a classic travel poster for destinations around the world. AllPosters offers varying styles, sizes and prices with many framing options as well. This might be my favorite item on this list — OK, second to Flight Simulator. Buy: Allposters.com, $8 to $120
Finally, here's something (potentially) free. Take a trip to a nearby airport for a few hours of planespotting. Grab some binoculars, a lawn chair and headphones if you've got them and download liveatc.net and flightradar24.com for free. Kick back and do what AvGeeks really like more than anything else: marveling at the feat of commercial aviation by doing some good old-fashioned planespotting.