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I'm a beginner at aviation. I'm currently in training for gliders license. Our instructors mentioned that sunglasses are very important if not mandatory.

What kind of properties do I need to look for in sunglasses to determine whether they are good for flying?

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  1. No polarizing glasses, they make reading anti-glare instruments difficult and sometimes even limit your outside view if the cockpit windows are polarized as well.

  2. Good fit, you don't want to loose them in the slightest of turbulence. Consider fitting a strap so you can temporarily hang them around your neck. They also need to be comfortable if you wear a headset over them.

  3. Neutral colour (grey, grey-green, brown) of the lenses, which does not distort the natural colours too much as that would make distinguishing navigation lights more difficult.

Actually the FAA have published a safety brochure on sunglasses which covers many aspects.

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    $\begingroup$ That came as a surprise, as someone who doesn't know much about planes, for some reason I automatically thought that polarizing glasses would be preferred for pilots. $\endgroup$ – Nit Mar 29 '15 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ Little known fact: The FAA also requires all pilots to wear sunglasses off duty, at night, and while sleeping. $\endgroup$ – Jason C Mar 29 '15 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ A photo or 2 would be nice :) $\endgroup$ – Danny Beckett Mar 30 '15 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ Any advice on finding good quality, non-polarized glasses? I've looked before, and polarization is a "feature" of most good quality sunglasses. It seems impossible to find non-polarized. $\endgroup$ – abelenky Aug 12 '15 at 21:22
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No matter what type you get in the other answers, make sure they're comfortable. Realize the headset will be pressing the arms into the side of your head. I used some Oakleys that I think left permanent dents in my skull.

One thing you may consider as a student is the sunglasses ability to accept a pair of flipdown blinders??(not sure of the name) that are used for IFR training. Waay better than the hood, but still not as fun as real IFR.

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There are some good answers to a similar question here which may help you on some general things. But as mentioned no polarization due to its issues with glass cockpits. Good eye coverage is key and this will depends on your eyes and how different glasses sit on your face. There are lots of low profile sunglasses out there that may look cool but let a lot of light in on top and bottom of the lenses. Also as mentioned they need to fit under your headset nicely so some larger frame stuff wont work that well. I prefer the Ray-Ban aviators (non polarized) with the classic green lens. They sit will under head sets and have nice coverage. Avoid any lens that has a gradient tint, I tried to fly with a pair of gradient tinted aviators I also own and it was miserable.

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