Monday, May 11, 2009

The Aviator

The Aviator sunglasses (pilot shades) gained infamy since their creation in the last 1930's when General Douglas MacArthur wore a pair upon being photographed after landing in the Philippines in 1941 during World War II. They became an instant symbol of Americana. But the aviators have a long history and many companies now make a variation of the Aviator, like the most popular the Ray Ban Aviator.

U.S. Army test pilot F.W. "Mike" Hunter wearing aviator sunglasses, October 1942.

Ray Ban Aviator Sunglasses | RB3030

After the jump you will find a brief history of the aviator sunglasses and a few of my favorites.

The aviator sunglasses was developed and released in the 1941 to replace the aviator goggles which were causing pilots to develop an unsightly tan line around their eyes, a tan face with a white ring around they eyes is never a good detail to have. The tear-drop shaped aviators were created after the shape of the original aviator goggles and to give the wearer the most coverage area from the sun without obstructing any of their vision and allowing for an even tan. The tear-drop shaped aviators by B&L (Bausch & Lomb) Ray Ban were typically preferred amongst the naval aviators whereas the square shaped aviator sunglasses by American Optical were liked by the Army/Air Force for they were easy to take on and off while wearing a helmet.

The design was simple, a large lens to limit the amount of sunlight and a simple wire frame that wrapped behind the ear to ensure they did not fall off in any particular reason. It is thought that the aviator glasses gained popularity within the Air Force when Pilots wanted something that would block the glare during day missions and dogfights. But this is only speculation.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun, the 1980's revival of the aviator.

Nevertheless, the aviator has been an American classic since its introduction and will forever remain one. But if you are in the market for a pair I would recommend American Optic, they have a pair that are not the squared aviators and are the current provider of the United States Air Force. You will be getting the most bang for your buck. Otherwise, take a look around and shop. Also, just like the pair I found today at the Rose Bowl Flea Market (a pair of 1948 B&L Ray Ban Aviators for $130) you can find them at flea markets and vintage stores everywhere.

American Optical aviator | General

Ray Ban Aviator | RB3025

Ray Ban Aviator | RB8029k

Ray Ban Aviator | RB3029

Ray Ban Aviator w/ Plastic Frame | RB4125

Ray Ban Aviator w/ Plactic Frame | CATS 5000

Persol Aviator | 0649

Persol Aviator | 0714

Randolph Engineering Aviator | Concorde


gurulugu said...

cool glasses
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Lesley said...

I live in my ray-ban aviators! They look amazing with everything!