The Birth of Aviator Sunglasses
The Evolution of Aviator Sunglasses
For most of us, it’s not possible to remember a time before aviator sunglasses. That’s how long aviators have stood for style and authority. Let’s take a look at the evolution of the aviator style.
New modes of transportaion created a need for a new type of eyewear. American Optical responded by creating driving goggles in 1907. With the open design of early automobiles, drivers needed protection not only from sun glare, but also from debris. Many believe these goggles to be the ancestor of the aviator sunglass style.
It became clear that pilots would need eye protection as well. AO began developing flight goggles based on successful driving goggles. Aviation legend Jimmy Doolittle wore these goggles on his record-breaking transcontinental flight in 1930.
The First Aviator Sunglasses
Soon after, in 1935, the US military contracted American Optical to design a pair of sunglasses specially engineered for their pilots, or aviators. The resulting frame, model D-1, is the first iteration of aviator sunglasses.
Today’s Aviator Sunglasses
Since then, the style of aviators has evolved. Bayonet temples were designed to allow pilots to put their glasses on and take them off without removing their helmets. The classic teardrop shape evolved to block more glare. This helped pilots to better see both the skies and their control panels. Today, AO Eyewear’s General, a classic aviator style named for General Douglas MacArthur continues to be a best-selling style.