What is the real reason why pilots wear sunglasses?
Sunglasses help safeguard a pilot’s most important sensory asset – vision. A quality pair of sunglasses is essential in the cockpit environment to optimize visual performance.
Sunglasses reduce the effects of harsh sunlight, decrease eye fatigue, and protect ocular tissues from exposure to harmful solar radiation. Additionally, they protect the pilot’s eyes from impact with objects (i.e., flying debris from a bird strike, sudden decompression, or aerobatic maneuvers).
Sunglasses can also aid the dark adaptation process, which is delayed by prolonged exposure to bright sunlight.
But what is the real reason why pilots wear sunglasses?
‘Well, in the cockpit, when you’re up at altitude, the sunlight is absolutely blinding. You need to either wear good sunglasses or have your dark visor down. Otherwise you will be blinded on a bright sunny day. It’s way worse than on the Earth’s surface.
‘I used to wear sunglasses when flying, later in my career, because I needed corrective lens for my eyes. Sometimes I wore clear glasses and used the dark visor, but sometimes I’d wear the dark sunglasses alone.
‘That’s the tactical reason, but certainly over time it’s just become part of the image of a fighter pilot, and part of the mystic. It looks cool and helps provide that cocky, confident self-image. So basically ego.’
‘Plus chicks dig ‘em.’
Photo credit: Paramount