Holiday gifts for business jet travelers

Business Jet Traveler » December 2008
Want to give something really unique? How about a 2,500-mph space flight?
Monday, December 1, 2008 - 4:00am

Running short on time to find just the right gift for a fellow business jet traveler? Need an extraordinary present for a hard-to-please friend or loved one? Here are some suggestions to simplify your treasure hunt, at prices from about $20 to $200,000.

Destination-Space: Still haven't banished your childhood dream of becoming an astronaut? Virgin Galactic can bring that dream to life. The company, a brainchild of the Virgin Group's Sir Richard Branson and renowned aircraft designer Burt Rutan, is selling tickets for suborbital flights aboard SpaceShip Two, the first ship specifically created to carry nonprofessional astronauts into space. The package will include three days of pre-flight preparation and on-site training as well as participation in preflight events. During the roughly 2.5-hour flight, you can expect to reach an altitude of 68 miles, travel at 2,500 miles per hour-more than three times the speed of sound-and see more than 1,000 miles in all directions. Price is $200,000. Info:
www.virgingalactic.com.

Haute Fido Tote:
If one of your favorite travel companions is petite, enjoys luxury accommodations and has four legs, why not bring him or her along in a Louis Vuitton
canvas sac de chien? The Dog Bag 40, made of monogram canvas with brass hardware, features a mesh panel to maximize airflow and a pull-down flap to disguise it when desired. The double zip-around top opens wide enough to allow easy access to a pampered pooch. The water- and scratch-resistant carrier also has a washable lining and rounded leather handles for a comfortable grip. The side can be stamped with up to three initials. Price is $1,890. Info:
www.louisvuitton.com.

Wine Like No Other: Why settle for bottled wine when you can vinify your own delectable blend? The Oenophile's Personal Winery comes with everything needed, including freshly harvested Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that are crushed, frozen and shipped to you. The processing, which takes place in a four-by-three-foot stainless-steel chamber vaguely shaped like a wine glass, is automated, and you take part using software you install on your computer. The software lets you select the desired characteristics-bold and fruity, for example-and recommends techniques to help you produce them. The winemaker monitors all the steps, including fermentation, sugar level and temperature, and wirelessly transmits the data for analysis so you can make adjustments as needed. The system also prompts you to smell, taste and take other steps at the appropriate times. Price is $5,999. Info:
www.hammacher.com.

When Flexibility Matters: Docking stations for iPods abound, but if you have an iPod touch, you might find this unit from iHome particularly useful. Seated within it, your iPod doubles as an alarm clock while it charges. What makes this item unique, though, is flexible positioning: The iH41BR Rotating Arm Alarm Clock complements the touch's variable-aspect screen by allowing you to sit the iPod vertically for normal viewing or horizontally for widescreen movies or videos. The digital time display automatically adjusts its orientation accordingly. This station also works with most other docking iPods. Price is $79.99. Info:
www.ihomeaudio.com.

Ties That Fly: For the aviation buff, the silk twill tie from Rivetz of Boston may be just the ticket. It's emblazoned with a subtle design of free-floating jets and is available with your choice of four background colors-black, blue, red or tan. And to keep those ties tidy in a closet, drawer or suitcase, you might also want to pick up a set of Rolling Tie Cases from Travel Tools. A built-in mechanism neatly winds each tie into a small acrylic storage case, where it's protected from dirt and wrinkles. Prices are $25.95 per tie and $24.95 for a set of three tie cases. Info:
www.pilotwear.com (ties) and
www.traveltools.com (cases).

A Phone That Sparkles: By now, you've probably seen plenty of Apple's wildly popular iPhones, but the odds are you'll never see another like this customized version from Swiss designer Knalihs Athem. The sleek black unit is rimmed with about 475 brilliant-cut diamonds. The gems, which weigh 3.75 carats in total, rate F for color (colorless) and VVS for clarity (very very slightly included) based on the Gemological Institute of America's grading scales. Price is $10,000 for each of the first 10 phones sold in the U.S. Info:
www.athem.ch.

Tee-off at Home:
If you love golf but can't get out to a course often enough, maybe it's time to bring one home. The aboutGolf SimSurround simulator uses advanced proprietary technology to create the most realistic experience possible. Instead of one projection screen, this simulator uses three. The two side screens extend beyond the teeing area, giving you a 180-degree view of the course. The custom computer and software recreate nearly 40 courses in meticulous three-dimensional detail. As you direct shots at the durable screens, three cameras track each minute movement of your club and ball, processing nearly 2,000 frames of information per second. You can record your performance, analyze the data to learn how you can improve your game-and play for as long as like, whenever you have time. Prices start at $45,000. Info:
www.aboutgolf.com.

Red Baron Adventure: If you've ever wondered whether you'd emerge victorious or perish in a dogfight, here's a way to find out. Air Combat USA, the Fullerton, Calif.-based school that originated air combat training for civilians in 1988, will show you the ropes, hand over the controls of an Italian military aircraft, lead you into mock battle and digitally record the proof of your performance. The experience, offered in 33 locations nationwide, begins with about two hours of instruction in safety procedures, tactics and maneuvers, rules of engagement and g-force effects. Then you and an instructor pilot a Marchetti SF.269 fighter for an hour or so of flight time in which you engage an enemy in five or six mock battles. Price is $1,395. Info:
www.aircombatusa.com.

Pen Notes with Panache: For many who still favor old-fashioned pen-and-paper correspondence, no other writing instrument beats a high-quality fountain pen. And for aviation buffs, Louis Cartier offers one whose design pays tribute to Brazilian pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont, the first to fly a powered airplane any significant distance in public- his own No. 14-bis biplane. The Santos de Cartier limited-edition fountain pen is crafted of sterling silver. Screwheads of nine-carat gold decorate the exterior in a pattern that brings to mind rivets on an airplane's fuselage. The crown and clip are propeller-shaped and gold-plated, and the 18-carat gold nib bears a propeller-shaped design. Price is $3,470. Info:
www.cartier.com.

Swing Shift: For the Tiger Woods wannabe who nevertheless isn't ready to bring home a $45,000 simulator, help is just a timepiece away. The Shot Watch measures the wearer's grip, swing speed and tempo, recording those details for each shot. When the golfer delivers a swing that he wants to learn to repeat, he can save the settings for those three variables in memory. The watch then compares each subsequent shot to the recorded ideal, noting how and to what degree those swings deviated. The user can work on all three elements simultaneously or focus on just one at a time. The watch can be set for right-handed or left-handed golfing. Price is $199. Info:
www.shotwatch.com.

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