An unexpected niche: Air Force pilot retirement gifts

The deeper the bond, the more this gift means, and the squadron bonds go deep!

written by fiona

published on December 30, 2022

If someone had told me when I was starting Fondfolio that these gifts would resonate with US Air Force pilots, I would’ve found it hard to believe. This is a group I never previously thought about at all, and if I had I wouldn’t have imagined them to be particularly sentimental. But I’ve created more Fondfolios for retiring US Air Force pilots than for retirees in any other category, so it’s hard to deny there’s an appeal!

When the first order for a pilot came in, I was surprised. The shipping address was for a remote location in Alaska. More striking though was the quality of the content I encountered when proofing. I was reading page after page of some of the kindest, most heartfelt words ever submitted (not to mention well constructed and grammatically correct)! Faced with undeniably tender stories and memories written by men identified by names like Blaze and Hacksaw (their unique callnames), I reconsidered my previous assumptions.

Of course these stereotypes didn’t spring from nowhere. The hyper-masculine, brash image is typically all we see of military pilots in pop culture (think Maverick from Top Gun). A softer thoughtful side is rarely revealed, but it’s there in real life, co-existing with the machismo.

A retirement Fondfolio and slipcase for a US Air Force pilot. Walnut wooden covers, coptic bound, the book is pictured in its slip case engraved with a Fighter Jet with an American flag behind it. A very patriotic Air Force retirement Fondfolio made in 2022

Based on what I now know, I can see how a personal collaborative gift like a Fondfolio is actually the perfect way to celebrate a retiring Air Force pilot. These guys (in my experience the pilots are always men) have gone through a lot together and they likely haven’t had the opportunity to fully express how much these shared experiences and memories mean to each of them.

They’ve often lived in close proximity for long periods of time in unfamiliar places away from their families and in many cases shared harrowing, sometimes traumatic experiences (or at the least a series of extremely high stress situations). A tight bond has naturally developed between them and now one of their kin is leaving — the absence will be deeply felt. It only seems right to honor that important relationship with some thoughtful reflection, closing a long chapter with a meaningful goodbye.

“Cannot recommend Fondfolio more! The craftsmanship is amazing, and having these stories and well wishes will be a treasure for us for years to come. What a wonderful way to look back on a career and life well spent. Thank you for your attention to detail and working with me to customize every part. This gift was truly one of a kind!” — Mindi

Of course these books make for great retirement gifts no matter the industry, but the deeper the relationship and the closer the bond, the more feelings and memories there are to express. And the bonds between Air Force pilots are about as close as you can get in terms of co-worker relations!

written by fiona

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