Real Answers from Real Pilots

Sunglasses

Hello, I was just wondering your thoughts on sunglasses, My jeppesen book recommended using grey lenses, and another article I read in Flight Training recommended not using polarized lenses, any thoughts, or preference on the matter, would it be any different in the cockpit of say an Archer or 172, thanks.
Kris

The grey lenses allow for the highest amount of ability to distinguish and receive true color. The colored lenses may look cool, but they will alter the actual color received by your brain to an extent. Grey lenses are the most central on the scale, and allow you to see just about every wavelength (determines color). The different lenses change the wavelength of the color received, however the frequency of the light waves remain the same (this never changes for a specific color). When wave length is changed by a certain material (water in the air causing rainbows for example) the person looking at it perceives it as different than someone who is looking at it somewhere else (why you can’t see a rainbow from everywhere for example).
Now to the polarized part: DONT GET POLARIZED! If you have two pairs of polarized glasses, look through them both while they are perpendicular to each other (at a 90 degree angle) and look wht happens! The lens will appear as a solid black image. As you do that, rotate one of the lenses while holding the other steady and note the change. This occurs because a polarized lens takes the incoming light that is approaching in all directions and “polarizes” it by making it all enter in one direction. When light is mixed as both vertical and horizontal rays, you get the annoying phenomenon of glare. By placing the lenses perpendicular to each other, you are effectively blocking out light from all directions, thus the black image.

A_ll the above is the definition from an engineering/physics standpoint. Below will be in short straight forward terms based off what is written above._

In the cockpit, the covers of digital instruments and sometime cockpit windshields and side windows are commonly polarized materials. Thus, wearing polarized sunglasses will make some things (or all!) appear as black and unreadable. Not good.
Also, certain things in the cockpit all color coded for simplicity (airspeed indicator, electronic engine performance instruments, etc) and therefore grey lenses allow for the truest color to be perceived by the pilot.

Sources:
1.)personal experience (aka bought awesome Oakleys the first week I started flying and then had to buy another pair specifically for flying. But hey, the oakleys are great for golf :joy:)
2.) too many classes on physics and engineering regarding lenses

Sorry for the long post, and I apologize ahead of time for any grammatical errors!

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Good post above, only thing I’d add is make sure they’re comfortable under the headset. Big armed glasses make for a pretty uncomfortable fit.

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Hey thanks allot, i appreciate the insights, I always enjoy learning new things, I figured grey would be the way to go, and thinner the better, makes sense. Much appreciated.
Kris

I’ve had all colors and it’s a personal preference, I don’t think any are bad (I have Oakleys but Serengeti’s are my fav). The only absolute is no polarized. Many aircraft windshields and FMS screens are polarized and you won’t be able to see them. Also I recommend straight arms so you can slide them under and out of your headset easily.

Adam

Kris,

To add to this discussion, I prefer a gradient tint, meaning that my sunglasses are dark at the top, but fade to a lighter gray on the bottom. I find that this blocks the outside light well, but when I shift my eyes down to the instruments it allows more light in and makes them easier to see.

Chris

I am a fan of the Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglass line. I am planning on getting the non-polarized ones. Would these be uncomfortable to wear with a David Clark headset? I know they have thicker sides than most glasses.

Thanks again for the advice guys I appreciate it.
Kris

Jonah,

I had a pair of Wayfarers years ago. Not the worse but after an 8hr day in the cockpit you will feel them. You really want to be thinking function over style but your call.

Adam

Hey all,

I personally have Oakley sunglasses as well. They have the straight arm, they are lightweight and they do a good job at blocking out the sun.

Yarden