5th December, 2012

Vari-Focal sunglasses for glider pilots

In June 2012, Bigatmo designed a bespoke pair of vari-focal sunglasses for a glider pilot. Here’s what Sqn Ldr Keith Chandler, Officer Commanding,615 Volunteer Gliding Squadron – RAF Kenley had to say:

Sqn Ldr Keith Chandler’s review of Bigatmo’s vari-focal sunglasses

“I’ve been flying gliders for more than 37 years and tried numerous styles and types of sunglasses in a long term search for the best for glider pilots. None have ever come close to the environment provided by Bigatmo Glasses, which are ideal for providing the contrast and clarity required for serious soaring, they do exactly what it says on the Bigatmo website and I commend you to look there, but that is not the point of this note:–

Many Glider pilots will know, as we get older, the need for optically corrected sunglasses increases and then they becomes more complicated when we need vari-focals. Experience has shown that usually Vari-focals and gliding don’t mix, as you end up like a nodding dog trying the get the distance segment (the upper portion) of the lens, low enough to see the ground over the canopy edge.

When it comes to glasses, Glider pilots needs differ significantly from our GA & ATPL friends, as we spend most of the time looking out of the cockpit, with systematic checks of the instruments, which due to our seating configuration are always in a very defined focal length.

I really wanted a pair of Bigamo’s for all the reasons they say on their website, but I also needed them vari-focal, so I invited Alastair Carrie of Bigatmo to 615VGS and showed him the problem and how it’s made worse by the reclined seating position we adopt. He took on board all the issues unique to us Glider pilots, where we need a very large area of the lens for distance, and a much reduced area low down in the frame for instruments and FRC’s etc and took the problem back for discussion with his team.

The end result was Bigatmo, provided me with bespoke vari-focal sunglasses with a very shallow close vision segment in the bottom, just large enough for reading FRC’s and Maps at 450mm, with a very narrow intermediate lens just above it for the instruments at 600mm and the remainder (the majority of the lens) for distance vision.

The quality of the lens and the transition between the various focal lengths is indiscernible, they are the most comfortable vari-focal glasses I have ever had, and combine that with all the clarity, contrast and quality issues that these glasses provide I have no hesitation in commending these glasses, optically correct or not, to all fellow glider pilots. They also look very smart so can be used any time.”

Sqn Ldr Keith Chandler

Officer Commanding

615 Volunteer Gliding Squadron – RAF Kenley.