Aviator Sunglasses

Aviation Careers



Flight deck and cabin crew members are subjected to all types of climatic conditions. It is vitally important that they wear a good pair of sunglasses and avoid wearing imitation type glasses.



Aviator Sunglasses are also commonly referred to as “Pilot Shades”. They are easily identified by their dark reflective lenses, metal frames with the curved earpiece that hooks behind the ears. The original aviator sunglasses were developed byBausch & Lomband branded asRay-Ban.


Do you know the history behind Aviator Sunglasses? No, they were not designed for Tom Cruise when he starred in the movie Top Gun in the 1980’s.


The US military approached Ray Ban in 1936 to make a standard issue of sunglasses for their Air Force pilots. During this time the general public were banned from wearing them. They were then used during the Second World War as protection for fighter pilots -protecting their eyes against sun, glare and enemy bombing. The original aviator sunglasses were bigger and although looked flat they had a slight curve, which meant it bent slightly around the eye giving complete protection from any angle. This is why it became so popular with pilots. 

During the Second World War photographs were taken of General Douglas Mac Arthur wearing aviator sunglasses. When these photos were published in newspapers they became an instant winner.


Flight Deck crew members need constant protection against the glare and sun which they are subjected to in the Flight Deck, without the possibility of any distortion of their visibility.  This design by Ray Ban ensured that vast protection was given to them from glare and light. Aviator sunglasses are still extremely popular amongst personnel in the aviation industry.


Many companies are now making similar shaped sun glasses but the original Aviators made by Ray Ban still remains one of the most popular.

Aviator sunglasses are no longer worn only by pilots. They have become a fashion statement with many Hollywood stars making them even more popular than they were before.  


Aviators now come in many designs and colours with many designers offering different versions of aviator sunglasses so you are likely to find a pair that suits your need. Aviator sunglasses come in different sizes i.e. small, medium, and large so try them on before buying online as you need to know which size is suited to your face.

There are a huge number of manufacturers who make aviator sunglasses. Almost all designers have one or more versions of aviators.


As a cabin crew member you are not permitted to wear sunglasses in the aircraft cabin, however flying internationally, you will be exposed to many climatic conditions and having an effective pair of sunglasses, is vitally important. When buying sunglasses it is advisable to follow the following guidelines.


Frames can be made in stainless steel, titanium, carbon fibre etc. Metal frames are ideal as they are sturdy and do not bend or break easily however, when broken it is difficult to fix them. So ensure that when choosing a metal frame, you have a hard-shelled case.  Plastic frames often do resemble metal and are normally larger in size as they need to hold large lenses in place. Plastic frames are normally not as durable as metal frames.



Have you heard of UV Protected lenses? Well the UV stands for Ultraviolet Light which is a type of electromagnetic radiation which comes from the sun’s rays. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays. Tanning lamps and beds are also sources of UV rays. Strong exposure to snow reflection can also cause damage to your eyes.

 Medical doctors do caution that too much exposure to UV light increases the risk of eye disease such as growths on the eye, cataracts etc. so ensure that lenses are UV protected.

Polarised Lenses

Sunlight can be absorbed and or redirected in several directions. Sunlight which is bounced off a horizontal surface such as metal, land, water etc. is reflected back in a similar horizontal direction. This reflection can be dangerous as it produces a blinding glare. A good pair of sunglasses will usually have polarised lenses.

Polarised lenses contain a coated filter which will allow only vertically oriented light passing through it. Glare is almost totally eliminated as these lenses block horizontally oriented light.

Initially polarised lenses were brown and grey but today many colours are available.                            

Mirrored Lenses

These lenses are covered with a reflective optical coat which turns them into one way mirrors thus will limit the amount of light entering your eyes. The less light that goes through a sunglass lens, the better it is for your eyes. The wearer perceives no difference in vision regardless of what colour the coating is. Only those looking at the person wearing the glasses can see the colour of the mirror coating.The main disadvantage of mirrored sunglasses is they are easily scratched.

Lens Colour

Lens colour is a personal choice and doesn't really affect how well sunglass lenses protect your eyes from UV light.  They can however distort colour. The brown, grey and green lenses are the most popular as they are colour neutral. They reduce the brightness of colour but do not affect the shade. These colours are great for driving and many outdoor activities.

Yellow lenses are popular with athletes partaking in winter sports such as snow skiers as they work well in moderate to low light and reduce haze and increase contrast for a sharper image. Colours will take on a yellowish shade.

Blue-tinted lenses were endorsed by the USPTA for tennis professionals. They were also provided to linepersons in the 2000 French Open. Blue is a contrast lens and reduces glare from visible white light e.g. light reflected from snow or water etc.

Rose / Red Lenses

These lenses are soothing to the eyes and due to them filtering out bright light, they create very good low-light visibility and high colour contrast. Some colours can be slightly distorted but green and blue shades hold up strong.


Gradient Lenses

Gradient lenses are tinted from the top down, thus the top of the lens is darkest. These lenses are good for driving, as they shield your eyes from overhead sunlight and allow more light through the bottom half of the lens so you can see your dashboard clearly.                                                  

Double gradient lenses are lenses that are tinted from the bottom up with the top and bottom being darkest and the middle having a lighter tint. Should you want sunglasses that are not too dark, double gradient lenses are ideal.  

Photochromic lenses adjust their level of darkness based on the amount of UV light they're exposed to.

Happy shopping.