The Birth of Aviator Sunglasses
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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.

Goggles

It became clear that pilots would need eye protection as well. AO began developing flight goggles based off of the successful driving goggles. Aviation legend Jimmy Dolittle wore these goggles on his record-breaking transcontinental flight in 1930.

Jimmy Dolittle

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.

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 helmet. 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.

General Sunglasses

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