Top 5 Flight Simulator Gifts and Essentials for Aviation Enthusiasts in 2024

Discover the most unique gift ideas for pilots and aviation enthusiasts who use flight simulators.
Mike Catalfamo
Mike Catalfamo

FAA CFI, CFII, ATP

Train with Me

Looking for the perfect gifts for flight sim pilots or aircraft enthusiasts in your life? You’ve come to the right place!

For those not familiar with flight simulation or aviation, it can be difficult to understand what they might find useful or interesting – especially if they already have the basics.

We’re here to help you find a gift that will bring your friend or loved one’s virtual pilot experience to the next level!

Here’s your go-to list of the top 5 must-have flight simulator gifts for aviation aficionados this year.

Flight Sim Gifts for Enthusiasts and Pilots

Online Flying Lesson

For the simmer who has everything else, a hands-on, online flying lesson with an expert flight instructor will be an unforgettable and educational experience.

They will be able to fly with real-life pilots (Certified Flight Instructors, in fact) averaging over 4000 hours of flying experience. They are also flight simulation experts who will teach the secrets of using a flight simulator to become a competent and safe pilot.

Whether the recipient is a beginner who has never touched an aircraft, or an experienced pilot looking to maintain proficiency, these lessons add realism and purpose to the flight sim experience, helping them learn to fly the right way.

It offers a unique opportunity to learn expert insights from the comfort of home. Lessons are available both for users of X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Upgraded Flight Sim Hardware

High end yoke

If your favorite virtual pilot flies with just a basic joystick, they will really appreciate an upgrade to higher quality, more realistic hardware.

Try to find out what kind of aircraft they like to fly.

If you’re not sure, the Honeycomb Alpha is one of the best general yoke options for a variety of aircraft types. It’s typically paired with the Honeycomb Bravo throttle quadrant.

Here are some options that are more closely modeled after specific aircraft:

If they like to fly aircraft that use a glass cockpit system called the G1000, check out this guide to help upgrade them to a physical panel so they don’t need to use a mouse to click knobs/switches.

If you want to help them set up a full simulator, check out our Flight Sim Setup Guide.

Microsoft Store/Xbox Gift Card

msfs gift card

For those who fly Microsoft Flight Simulator, a gift card for the Microsoft Store/Xbox would be a flexible option.

With this gift card, they can purchase various add-ons to enhance their simulator experience, such as:

  • Aircraft: From small single-engine planes to massive commercial jets, the Marketplace offers a variety of aircraft beyond what is included by default in MSFS.
  • Scenery: The Marketplace has scenery packs that dramatically improve the realism of specific areas, such as the pyramids of Egypt or the skyscrapers of New York City.
  • Airports: Detailed airports with accurate buildings, runways, and ground traffic enhance the realism of ground operations.
  • Utilities and Tools: These include weather engines, flight planning tools, and traffic enhancements.
  • Missions and Challenges: For those looking for structured flying experiences, there are various missions and challenges, ranging from beginner to expert level.
  • Livery Packs: Customize the look of aircraft with different paint schemes representing real-world airlines or other designs.

Pilot Shop Gift Certificate

pilot shop gift card

Looking for the perfect birthday gifts for pilots? A gift certificate to Sporty’s, a well-known pilot shop in the US, will open up a range of choices including:

  • Ground school courses
  • Flight sim hardware
  • Real-world pilot accessories (like kneeboards/charts)

It’s one of the most versatile gifts on this list, and it’s an especially good option if the recipient is a real-life pilot who would like the option to buy something either for the simulator or real-world.

Full Flight Sim Experience

embraer full flight simulator

Gift an unforgettable experience with a session in a full-scale flight simulator of airliner.

These experiences are not available in every city, but they are becoming more common, particularly in Europe. Here are some examples:

If you don’t live in one of these cities, simply search Google “flight sim experience in Minneapolis” to see if one exists near you.

They will love the opportunity to push knobs and switches and experience a fully immersive cockpit environment.

For the ultimate realism, look for full-motion simulators that will let them feel the g-forces you feel in a real airplane.

Conclusion

Flight sim pilots thrive on realism, and these gifts are perfect for bringing it to the next level.

An online flying lesson brings expert insights into their home cockpit. Upgraded hardware like a high-end yoke or control system transforms their setup, making every flight feel more authentic. MSFS gift cards provide the freedom to choose from a variety of add-ons. And for the ultimate experience, a session in a full flight simulator lets them get as close as possible to flying a jet.

Regardless of which you choose, these gifts will help fuel their passion for flying. Happy shopping!

Share this article:
Get Help
Free Guides
Get expert help from real-life flight instructors and sim experts.
Join our mailing list to immediately receive:
  • Printable keyboard shortcuts for MSFS & X-Plane
  • The world's easiest G1000 tutorial (full flight)
  • Our MSFS and X-Plane Quick Reference Guides
Later we will also send our landing tips guide, realism tips, and more.