Military Aviation

Chicks dig ‘em! US Naval Aviator explains why fighter pilots wear sunglasses

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?

David Tussey, former US Navy A-7 Corsair II pilot, explains on Quora;

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‘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.’

Tussey concludes;

‘Plus chicks dig ‘em.’

Photo credit: Paramount

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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