by Dave Weiman
Published online Midwest Flyer Magazine – February/March 2021
Most aviators know that they should not wear “polarized” sunglasses, and “Sporty’s Pilot Shop,” being a leader in pilot supplies, sells a wide variety of high-quality sunglasses that do an excellent job of reducing glare, but without polarization.
According to Doug Ranly, catalog manager at Sporty’s, when sunglasses are polarized, they use an optical filter to reduce glare. While this may be fine for fishing or driving, he says that it is generally not a good idea for flying because many cockpit instruments and glass panels have polarized faces, and polarized sunglasses will render these instruments unreadable. In addition, an iPad screen will be blacked out in portrait orientation when wearing polarized sunglasses.
If you wear “contact lenses,” or otherwise only need “readers” to see objects close up, you can buy sunglasses with readers built in, or you can purchase “stick-on” reading lenses that you can easily install yourself. The problem with prescription sunglasses is that if you break or lose them, you are generally out more money than if you buy a pair of off-the-shelf sunglasses.
One non-prescription pair of sunglasses we found intriguing are the “AV2” by Dual Eyewear. They feature your choice of available built-in readers and weigh a mere 1 ounce, so you may forget you even have them on. These non-polarized nylon lenses offer higher definition and outstanding optical clarity, and are available in grey or bronze tint, and until recently, were available in gradient lenses in bronze, meaning the lenses are less tinted towards the bottom for better illumination of a generally dark instrument panel. Unfortunately, the gradient lenses tint is no longer available at Dual Eyewear, but the solid tint is. Dual Eyewear AV2 sunglasses are available through Sporty’s for $99.95.
Also advertised in Sporty’s is the Serengeti Eyewear line of sunglasses, which are available in your choice of aviator or modugno frames, and driver’s gradient lenses in bronze. Serengeti Eyewear sunglasses are also available through Sporty’s and sell for between $119.95 and $159.95, depending on your preference of frames.
I have long been a Ray-Ban fan, and they too are available through Sporty’s, but apparently Ray-Bans are only available in Green Classic G-15 lenses and not bronze, and do not appear to offer a gradient lens. But I will have to admit, Ray-Bans are great-looking sunglasses!
If you prefer the “Clark Kent,” dark rim look, Sporty’s offers “Cloudbase Optics” sunglasses that feature Carl Zeiss lenses to provide high contrast, outstanding optical clarity, and excellent UV protection. When looking outside the cockpit, these sunglasses appear to limit brightness, so you can distinguish clouds from the sky more distinctly.
For a complete selection of aviator sunglasses, go to Sportys.com.