If your Christmas shopping list includes looking for a present for an AvGeek or an aviation enthusiast, then you’ve come to the right place.
Aviation enthusiasts are probably given tons of diecast model planes, plane pillows, and aircraft keychains and, as much as they love those, they’re probably tired of receiving the same gifts year after year.
So for the 2023 holiday season, AeroTime has rounded up the most unique and memorable aviation-themed experiences on offer this festive period.
Whether your AvGeek is a history buff, a space nerd, or a jet setter, there’s a gift fit for all aviation lovers of all personalities and ages.
For the adventurous flier: a mystery flight
Image: Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock.com
For those who love the element of surprise, a mystery flight package is the perfect present.
Australia-based Mystery Flights offer gift vouchers for domestic travel getaways around Australia. This could be a weekend of sunshine and snorkeling in Cairns, or a quick shopping getaway in Melbourne. Who knows?
Packages range from day trips to one to three nights, and while the recipient of the gift voucher can choose their dates of travel, the destination will only be revealed at the last minute.
A mystery flight package folder detailing flight information (excluding the destination) will be emailed to travelers three days prior to departure. If they feel a little nosy, travelers can choose to look up flight details online, or if they’re really adventurous, just rock up at the airport for a real surprise.
Bonus: Mystery Flights will soon introduce international mystery flights for an even more exciting surprise.
For the AvGeek who is also a history buff: flying a Second World War Biplane
If you have a loved one who is into aviation and history, you can kill two birds with one stone and give them a Virgin Experience gift of flying a Second World War biplane.
The aircraft is a meticulously restored Second World War Stearman Biplane that was owned by the United States Army Air Corps from 1942-1945.
You can choose from a 30-minute flight for $395.00 or a one-hour flight for $695.00. The flight will take off and fly around Warrenton, Virginia.
This experience is for one person who will be flown by a Federal Aviation Administration-certified flight instructor and aerobatic champion with more than 38 years of experience.
For the space nerd: an astronaut training experience
Space enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy the Kennedy Space Center’s Astronaut Training Experience in Merritt Island, Florida.
This is the only place in the world where you can train like next generation space explorers headed to Mars.
Participants will be able to practice docking skills, navigate the unique Mars terrain and experience the sensation of performing a spacewalk in a microgravity environment. Using immersive simulation technology, participants will learn how to work with teams to solve real-world problems using authentic NASA science.
The training experience lasts four to five hours. Equipment and facilities include Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, training simulators, land / rover simulator and a microgravity simulator.
For the frequent flier: an airport lounge membership
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We all know someone who travels so frequently it seems like they almost live at the airport. Whether they are traveling for work or leisure, your frequent flier friend will most certainly appreciate an airport lounge pass such as Priority Pass.
A Priority Pass membership will allow you to access lounges in more than 1,000 airports around the world.
Before a flight, Priority Pass members can relax and enjoy complimentary refreshments, or log onto the free Wi-Fi offered in lounges and catch up on work. Some of its lounges even offer extra benefits such as spa treatments, gaming experiences, sleeping areas and swimming pools.
For the ultimate traveler: a flight gift card
If you want to shoulder someone’s travel expenses, a flight gift card is a better option than having to book the flight yourself, or giving them cash.
Flightgift offers personalized airline gift cards that can be easily redeemed worldwide with more than 400 airlines.
A flight gift card is a flexible option that will allow recipients to fly whenever and wherever they want. The cards are valid for two years and you can personalize the airline gift card with designs and messages.
The gift card can be loaded with a minimum amount of $25.00 and a maximum amount of $10,000. It’s a perfect present not just for Christmas, but for graduations, weddings, and any milestone celebration.
For the Maverick-wannabe: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ flight training
Image: Per Wilhelmsson / Shutterstock.com
It’s hard to imagine any AvGeek saying no to this ultimate adventure of flying like a Top Gun pilot with Sky Combat Ace.
Aviation enthusiasts can channel their inner Maverick or Hangman and embark on a full-throttle flying session that follows many of the same stunts and mission profiles as seen in the hit film, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’.
The experience includes advanced multi-ship air-to-air combat, as well as the option to add advanced aerobatics or low level bombing run.
Unlike other flying experiences where participants are simply taken on a flight, this one will have them engage in an air to air combat with other teams. The challenge is an Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM), a “winner stays, and loser pays” type of scenario with no breaks in between engagements.
An experienced instructor will guide the participant, who will fly the aircraft. No flight experience is necessary, just a need for speed.
This adventure is available in three locations in the US: Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas and San Diego.
This ultimate adrenalin package is priced at $1,999 per person plus a $180.00 fuel surcharge.
For the ultimate time-travel experience: stepping back in time with Pan Am
Image: Pan Am Experience
Relive the golden days of flying with a Boeing 747 through the Pan Am Experience by Air Hollywood in Southern California.
Air Hollywood is an aviation-themed film studio which is also home to an exact replica of Pan Am’s Boeing 747. Though this is a fine dining affair, it replicates not only the interiors and service of Pan Am, but the flight experience as well.
The experience begins at a check-in desk in the style of Pan Am’s First and Clipper class, where 70s-themed boarding passes are given. The area is also complete with all Pan Am memorabilia and once visitors step inside the aircraft interior, they will be transported back in time as they are welcomed and served by flight attendants wearing original Pan Am uniforms.
The five course meal, including the china and glassware it is served on reflect the signature Pan Am menu and branding elements. Menu includes 70s Pan Am hits like shrimp cocktail, tomato and mozzarella with pesto glaze, and roasted chicken with peppercorn.
The golden days of flying may be over, but this is the closest you can get to reliving the magical era.
For a unique experience: helicopter glamping
Image: Host Unusual
Plenty of planes have been repurposed and redesigned to be luxury hotels and accommodation, but if you want a unique aviation-themed stay, then why not consider helicopter glamping instead?
Host Unusual is like AirBnb for unique and extraordinary accommodation sites around the world. One of its “properties” is an ex-Royal Navy helicopter in The Lizard, a peninsula in southern Cornwall, England, United Kingdom
The interior of the helicopter, a Westland Lynx ZD566, has been converted to provide comfort while also retaining many of its original features.
Inside, there is a comfy double bed with bedding and towels provided, along with drink-making equipment. And while headroom is limited inside, a hard-top gazebo is provided for a little extra standing space.
Breakfast is served every morning by the host, who also owns the chopper.
Which unique experience piques your interest? Would you consider buying one of these for the aviation lover in your life? Let us know!
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