January 2015 Issue


+XTRActive photochromic lenses work well with cockpit displays.

+ Interchangeable bifocal lenses add sizable utility in and outside of the cockpit.

- We think styling is important. How about some more designs to choose from?

Transitions For Pilots: Cabin, Headset Friendly

The latest aviator sunglasses from Flying Eyes include bifocal, gradient and photochromic lens options. We wish for more styling options.

I thought the original Flying Eyes Hawk pilot sunglasses, designed with headset-friendly webbed temples, had enough utility to justify the $170 price, but for many flights they were off my head more than they were on. Thatís because I found the lenses to be too dark, even in partly cloudy conditions.

I just happened to be looking for prescription sunglasses that can serve flying missions, plus a variety of high-impact adventure sports. Ready to pull the trigger on a new pair of WileyX glasses, I instead invested in the latest Flying Eyes with transitions lenses to see if they could handle my abuse and how they perform in the cockpit. Hereís a field report.

The second generation Flying Eyes can be fitted with a variety of lenses. This includes gradient tint and non-prescription bifocal, plus traditional solid tint and even polarized lenses, which generally donít work well with certain avionics displays. The glasses come with shatter-resistant polycarbonate lenses with a scratch- and smudge-resistant Claris HD coating.

Flying Eyes works with the ABB Optical Group digital eye lab and provides the glasses with your prescription, so you wonít have to send them out for modification yourself. You will need to have your optician measure pupillary distance and fitting height. That required a second visit to my opticianóand a fee of $50ósince these specifications werenít written on my prescription.

The XTRActive lenses lighten completely to easily read displays in a totally dark cabin.

My glasses arrived one week after submitting the order, and they included my prescription (Iím near-sighted) with the Transitions Optical photochromic lens option. Flying Eyes says the Transitions XTRActive is the only photochromic technology that will work effectively in cabin lighting. I agree. My previous light-adaptive lenses never† lightened enough in a dark cabin, but the Flying Eyes turned completely clear in a dark cabin and worked extremely well with color panel displays. I wore them while installing the cabin cover on the dark ramp and when driving home.

The Flying Eyes have Resilamide frames made from advanced polymers, lending to flexibility, durability and lighter weight than many other frames. The only nit I have is the lack of available styling options.

The Hawk frames come with two sets of removable temples, in addition to the webbed head strap. The standard temples are 5 millimeters thick, while the micro-thin temples are 1 millimeter thick. Both varieties have enough flex to not put uncomfortable tension on the side of the head. In fact, I found the micro-thin temples comfortable enough to not even use the webbed strap. Plus I liked the ability to take the glasses off and put them back on without removing the headset. I wore a Lightspeed Sierra and AKG AV100.

The XTRActive lenses also provide just enough tint for overcast and dusk conditions

The overall design has also been improved, making it easier to quickly remove and swap the temples. Simply squeeze the buttons, release the temples from the frames and snap the new temples in. The headstrap is removed and installed the same way. A lightweight cinch holds the headstrap in place, while keeping any excess on the back of the head. I wear a short haircut and the strap never tugged at the hair, although it did make me itchy.

Non-prescription Hawks start at $169, nonprescription bifocals are $189. Prescription options start at $336. If you an own an original Hawk model, basic prescription lenses can be fitted in them for $351, including shipping both ways.

Visit, 888-568-8978.