Best Aviation Lenses and Lights for Pilots | Executive Manual (2023)

Flashlights and searchlights are invaluable tools for pilots to use during preflight checks and in the cockpit. However, it's not as simple as going to the nearest gas station and picking the first one you come across.

A well-designed aerial lens or projector for aerial purposes must strike the right balance between ease of use, brightness, and reliability. So various color and brightness features and a few other features are essential.

The Best Lenses for Pilots

Smith & Wesson Dual Beam Flashlight

Smith & Wesson Dual Beam Flashlight A lens with the quality we've come to expect from Smith & Wesson.

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Smith & Wesson is synonymous with quality—Smith & Wesson Dual Beam FlashlightThe ones (White and Red) that run on 3 AAA batteries and have a run time of 2.25 hours are no exception.

I appreciate the separate buttons for quick selection without having to scroll through various color and brightness options. Pocket clips are another great option.

Lanterna Flight Outfitters Bush Aviator

Lanterna Flight Outfitters Bush Aviator The best rechargeable aviation flashlight.

Flight Outfitters may design somebest flight bagin the market, but theylantern bush pilotHere's another winner.

The flashlight is fully rechargeable from a cigarette lighter, portable battery, or the USB port of a wall outlet.

My favorite feature, however, is the Smart Select Dial, which gives you five different lighting modes without having to cycle through each one.

Brightness ranges from 1,000 lumens for pre-flight checks to a softer low-level green light (120 hours of operation), which is useful when flying passengers at night.

The Flight Outfitters Bush Pilot Lens is absolutely durable, crafted from aerospace-grade aluminum that is waterproof and impact-resistant to handle the harshest environments.

Additional features include spotlight and floodlight capabilities, strobe settings for emergency signaling, belt/pocket clip and 4-beam zoom design.

Ledlenser P7 Lantern

Ledlenser P7 Lantern Recommended for its simplicity and reliability.

new:42,51 $

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Simplicity and reliability are the name of the gameLedlenser P7 Lantern.It may not have as many features as other models, but what I've found it can do, it does it well.

The P7 has 3 lighting modes (Power, Low Power and Boost) with buttons strategically placed on the sturdy aluminum body. The flashlight is definitely brighter than anything else on this list, which is great for pre-flight checks, but luckily the low power mode is also great for use in the cockpit.

The P7 runs on 4 AAA batteries (although rechargeables can also be used), has an IPX-4 water resistance rating, and comes with a generous 7-year warranty.

Netco MT20A

Nitecore MT20A FlashlightPilots will appreciate the 5 power modes and requires only 2 AA batteries to operate

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there's a lot to likeNetco MT20A, but what I like the most is that it is powered by only 2 AA batteries, which are easy to find and save you more money in the long run compared to other aviation flashlights.

The flashlight has 5 power modes (Turbo, High, Medium, Low, Ultra-low), which can be changed by a well-designed up/down switch, and intelligently remember the brightness level after the flashlight is turned off.

The MT20A is IPX-8 waterproof to a depth of 2 meters and has light functions such as red light, strobe, SOS and beacon.

Run time varies from 1 hour 45 minutes to 180 hours depending on power mode.

Best headlights for pilots

Farol Flight Equipment

Farol Flight Equipment Pilots will appreciate the separate buttons for changing color modes.

new:27,02 $

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In my opinion, one of its best featuresFarol de LED Flight OutfittersSo there are separate buttons to toggle between white light and red light modes.

This is a very welcome feature in headlights, but in headlights where you can't rely on your eyesight to guide you, it's invaluable and makes the Flight Outfitters LED Headlights worth the money.

Both color modes have high and low settings, as well as options to focus the light. So if I need to do a pre-flight check or need a softer light in the cabin, this headlight does the trick.

The Flight Outfitters projector also features a convenient swivel attachment point and runs on 3 AAA batteries.

Farrol EverBrite

Farrol EverBrite Great choice for pilots looking for a headlight with multiple lighting functions.


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Despite its lightweight and comfortable design, the EverBrite headlight is an excellent choice for any pilot looking for a headlight with multiple lighting functions.

Dual switches on top of the projector toggle between high, medium, low, strobe, white, red, and green illumination. The brightness of the red and green lights cannot be adjusted, but are at a suitable level for cockpit use.

EverBrite projectors are well built, IPX-4 waterproof and shockproof to a depth of 1 meter, and come in two options:Battery powered(3 AAA batteries) orChargable.

Farol Nitecore NU25

Knight Core NU25 Great option for pilots looking for a rechargeable headlight

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If you're looking for a rechargeable aviation headlight, look no furtherKnight Core NU25.

All it takes is a USB power adapter and the included micro-USB charging cable to run for 16 hours, depending on power mode.

Available in 3 light sources including white, red and high CRI with 4 adjustable brightness levels.

The NU25 is compact and lightweight at less than 2 ounces, making it comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Despite its lightweight design, the projector can withstand a 1.5-meter impact and is waterproof.

Things to Consider When Buying an Aviation Flashlight or Beacon

  • Power/Battery Type

If you're like most pilots, you probably have some alkaline batteries stashed in your flight bag or cockpit for emergenciesaviation headsetthisportable aviation radio.You can also continue this trend by adding flashlights and projectors to the list of gadgets that use the same batteries instead of relying on the less common CR-123 or button cells.

Another option is a flashlight or headlamp with rechargeable batteries. These devices can be easily recharged in the cockpit via a cigarette lighter, portable battery or wall adapter. They're usually a smart choice because they'll save you battery costs in the long run.

  • rich and colorful

It's not strictly necessary to buy a model that displays multiple colors, but it's probably a good idea to keep night vision on. The best aviation flashlights and headlights for pilots are those that can change color with the push of a button, rather than having to go through all the white light options.

  • shine

Remember that you will be using a flashlight or projector in the cockpit, so you definitely don't want to be blinded by white light. Fortunately, most lenses have adjustable brightness levels.

  • quality

It's easy to fall into the trap that a lens is just a lens and any lens will do. Don't make the mistake of neglecting quality. You don't want to depend on gas station lights in the cockpit. Spend a little more and choose a reputable brand.

  • independent model

You want to avoid attaching lenses to devices that look like swiss army knives. Sticking to a lens that serves the sole purpose of being a lens, not a jack-of-all-trades, does nothing.

related:Can flashlights be brought on the plane?

benjamin ingram

Benjamin went through the costly and time-consuming process of testing the vast array of pilot supplies and equipment every pilot and aircraft owner needs in the cockpit on his way to becoming a licensed pilot.

He's dedicated to sharing his experiences and product recommendations so you don't have to go through the costly and time-consuming process he went through.

Benjamin also answers interesting questions about the world of private and commercial aviation.

Benjamin has been cited or referenced in major publications including The Savvy Globetrotter.


Best Aviation Lenses and Lights for Pilots | Executive Manual? ›

The best lenses are those made of glass by reputable manufacturers. These tend to have the best clarity and superior optical qualities. Polycarbonate lenses are more impact resistant and lighter weight, and the high-end brands make some excellent choices.

What type of lenses are best for pilots? ›

The best lenses are those made of glass by reputable manufacturers. These tend to have the best clarity and superior optical qualities. Polycarbonate lenses are more impact resistant and lighter weight, and the high-end brands make some excellent choices.

What color lenses are best for pilots? ›

Gray (neutral density filter) is recommended because it distorts color the least. Some pilots, however, report that gray-green and brown tints enhance vividness and minimize scattered (blue and violet) light, thus enhancing contrast in hazy conditions.

What kind of glasses do airline pilots wear? ›

According to the FAA, aviation sunglasses, reading sunglasses, and pilot bifocal sunglasses should have the following features: 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. A tint that optimizes vision and minimizes distortion of color; for example, neutral gray is recommended.

Why pilots don t use polarized sunglasses? ›

Polarized lenses diminish glare by absorbing and blocking incoming horizontal light, while allowing in vertical light. First, this effect can cause issues in the cockpit in regards to the aircraft's instruments. Polarized lenses can reduce the ability to read instruments that already incorporate anti-glare filters.

Are gradient lenses good for pilots? ›

These Polycarbonate lenses are made in several Gradients for bright Light reduction which reduce pilot fatigue while flying on sunny days. The EVO Jade Gradient Lenses provide amazing protection from the natural elements pilots may experience while in flight.

Can pilots wear blue light glasses? ›

Sunglasses for Pilots – Tinted lenses

The yellow shaded “blue blockers” will alter color perception if tinted enough to block out 30% of the light. Thus, these lenses should be used only by aviators on bright, hazy days and avoided in low light situations.

What glasses can pilots not wear? ›

People who wear glasses can be Air Force pilots, but they are required to have 20/30 nearsighted vision without correction. The farsighted vision requirements for pilots in the Air Force is 20/70, which can be corrected to 20/20 with contact lenses or glasses.

What color are aviators in Top Gun? ›

And it's more than just a statement in style. The Aviator was designed to protect US fighter pilots' eyes from the sun's harsh rays. For the classic look seen on Maverick, go for the RB3025 in Gold with G-15 green lenses.

Why do pilots wear raybans? ›

Like all sunglasses, they protect the eyes from the sun and are especially useful for dealing with the glare that sometimes comes from an airplane's cockpit during flight. Pilots must keep good eyesight when they perform missions in the air for a long time.

Why do pilots wear red glasses? ›

The goggles are made with red-tinted plastic lenses. Such goggles or glasses are often used by pilots and weather observers to preserve their natural night vision.

Do pilots actually wear aviators? ›

The aviators are not only worn by military pilots, but by commercial pilots too. The UV protection and anti-glaring of these sunglasses ensures that glare does not hinder a pilots' vision. There is also long-standing tradition that makes the aviators the first choice for pilots.

Are Ray Bans good for pilots? ›

Overall, the Ray-Ban Classic Aviator Sunglasses are a stylish, reliable choice for pilots, offering excellent protection against glare and UV rays, a comfortable fit, and a wide range of color options to suit your style.

Do pilots wear Ray-Ban aviators? ›

The aviator was originally designed to give military pilots the best possible coverage for their eyes in the sky. Both the teardrop shape and more rectangular aviator shape feature larger lenses that provide full coverage of the eye socket for pilots.

Are mirrored sunglasses good for pilots? ›

Sunglasses may be mirrored and prescription and come in any shape and form that matches the uniform, but polarized glasses are not recommended. As it is with most things, sunglasses for pilots are a matter of personal preference.

When should you not use polarized lenses? ›

Polarized lenses may not be the ideal choice in every situation. For instance, devices that use LCD displays emit polarized light. If your car uses LCD displays for basic controls, you should avoid polarized sunglasses while you drive.

Should pilots wear polarized or non polarized? ›

Polarized sunglasses may not be the best choice for the cockpit. Polarization interferes with windscreens and digital devices, producing rainbow swirls, black squares, and other distortions. This is because device screens and windscreens already have anti-glare features.

Who should not wear polarized sunglasses? ›

8. Polarized lenses work for everyone. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, anyone can wear polarized lenses to help protect their vision from the glare of sunlight. Some people feel like they have more protection against this issue because of their skin tone, but that isn't necessarily true.

Do pilots still need perfect vision? ›

No, as long as your vision can be corrected to 20/20 with glasses or contacts, you will be eligible for a First Class FAA Medical Certificate, which makes you eligible to fly as a civilian professional pilot. This is much less restrictive than military pilot vision requirements.

What eye degree do pilots have? ›

To hold a first or second-class medal certificate, Federal Aviation Regulations require a pilot's vision to be 20/20 or better, with or without correction, in each eye. The standard for near visual acuity is typically 20/40.

What vision do AF pilots need? ›

What are the vision requirements if I hope to be an Air Force Pilot? Pilots must have normal color vision, near visual acuity of 20/30 without correction, distance visual acuity of no worse than 20/70 in each eye correctable to 20/20 and meet other refraction, accommodation and astigmatism requirements.

Do pilots need 20 20 vision? ›

What are the FAA standards for vision? Federal Aviation Regulations require that a pilot's distant vision be 20/20 or better, with or without correction, in EACH eye separately to hold a first or second class medical certificate. The standard for near visual acuity (16″) is 20/40 in each eye separately.

Why can't military pilots wear glasses? ›

Pilots report contact lenses cause dry eyes, and having to wear glasses while flying is a nuisance, and having Lasik is an option that eliminates those problems. If eyesight deteriorates further, a waiver is required to continue carrier operations.

Can a pilot fly with a color blind? ›

If you fail a color vision test, you can still become a pilot. However, you'll be limited to daytime operations and won't be able to fly at night or accept ATC color signals. In addition, you can ask to take alternate color vision tests at a vision specialist.

Can top gun pilots wear glasses? ›

NFOs work pretty hard in the TAC air, ASW and AEW communities; their jobs are important. As far as the glasses are concerned there are Naval Aviators that wear them, even in the fighter community; most wear contact lenses. You can wear corrective lenses after getting your wings.

Can I get my pilot's license if I wear glasses? ›

Yes, airplane pilots can wear glasses. (And many do.) If you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, you can still become a commercial, private, or military pilot. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the military have certain minimum standards for prospective pilots.

Can you be a pilot with astigmatism? ›

There are further requirements for the vision that can be barring but acuity itself is rarely a problem if you are able to correct it with glasses or contacts. Astigmatism: Suffering from astigmatism can be disqualifying.

What aviators does Tom Cruise wear? ›

In the iconic 1986 film Top Gun, Tom Cruise's character, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell, popularised the now-classic style of Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses. Since then, the aviator has become one of the most recognizable and popular styles of sunglasses in the world.

What Colour aviators does Tom Cruise wear? ›

There's an equally wide choice of lens colours too, all offering 100% UV protection. You can choose from classic green (as worn by Tom 'Maverick' Cruise), light brown, light blue, silver purple and bronze blue, with lens options including graduated, mirrored or polarised.

What is the most popular Ray Ban aviator color? ›

As stated above, the Ray-Ban Aviator RB3025 in gold Arista and Crystal Brown is a personal favourite and best seller at Fashion Eyewear. This colourway could be described as the original. If you can't decide on a colour or you are after a timeless pair of sunglasses, we suggest going for this hue.

Why do pilots say souls on board? ›

The number of “souls” on an aircraft refers to the total living bodies on the plane: every passenger, pilot, flight attendant and crew member, according to Lord-Jones. Pilots often report the number of “souls” when declaring an emergency, she says, so rescuers know the amount of people to search for.

What brand aviators do pilots wear? ›

The AO Original Pilot Sunglasses are standard-issue to all branches of the US Military and have been a favorite of military pilots and aviators for more than 50 years; engineered to rigid military specs and features True Color gray lenses. Made in the USA.

What does wearing aviators say about you? ›

Aviators are cool, rebellious, and classic. Those that wear aviators wear them with respect and authority. Slap on a pair of these dark Dante aviators and you are bound to become legendary.

What are sunglasses for pilots called? ›

Aviator sunglasses are a style of sunglasses that were developed by a group of American firms. The original Bausch & Lomb design is now commercially marketed as Ray-Ban Aviators, although other manufacturers also produce aviator-style sunglasses.

How do pilots stay awake on red eye flights? ›

Managing fatigue is a challenge, particularly when flying overnight (red-eye) flights. Some countries allow pilots to take controlled naps to improve alertness during the landing. So far, the U.S. has not allowed this fatigue mitigation. Pilots keep flight deck lights up, and engage in conversation to help keep alert.

Do pilots need special sunglasses? ›

All pilots requiring a spectacle prescription must have one clear (untinted) pair of correcting lenses but can have prescription sunglasses as their second pair. The wearing of non-prescription sunglasses on top of prescription glasses is not acceptable.

Can anyone pull off aviators? ›

While aviators are easy to pull off by nearly everyone, there are some do's and don'ts to make the most of your look.

Why do pilot watches have a triangle? ›

The 12 o'clock triangular index, a luminous equilateral upright triangle with two dots on either side, enables a pilot to quickly figure out the 12 o'clock indication in relation to the upright orientation of the dial, and so read the time at a glance, both during the day and at night.

Who do aviators look good on? ›

Aviators don't necessarily look good on everyone. Thankfully, they will work on most face shapes and are ideal for those with oval, square and heart-shaped faces. Considering that there are only six face shapes, that's not bad. To learn more about how to pick sunglasses for your face shape and skin tone, click here.

Why is Ray Ban Aviator so expensive? ›

If you've ever wondered why Ray Ban's are so expensive, you're not alone. The high cost of their sunglasses is related to several factors, including their manufacture, competitive market, and position in the brand's portfolio.

Why do pilots wear green sunglasses? ›

This particular color choice was functional as the green tint helped cut out blue light, a significant issue for pilots flying above the cloud line. Not only that, but green lenses tend to reduce glare while also improving sharpness and contrast.

Is aviator and pilot sunglasses the same? ›

Aviator glasses are also known as 'Pilot's glasses'. They were first manufactured in 1936 by Bausch & Lomb exclusively for the Pilots. The purpose of their production was to protect the pilot's eyes while in flight.

What lenses are best for pilots? ›

Gray (neutral density filter) is recommended because it distorts color the least. Some pilots, however, report that gray-green and brown tints enhance vividness and minimize scattered (blue and violet) light, thus enhancing contrast in hazy conditions.

Why do pilots wear headphones? ›

There are two main reasons why pilots wear headsets in the cockpit; to prevent hearing loss and for easier communication with Air Traffic Control (ATC).

Are progressive lenses better than bifocals for pilots? ›

Bifocal contacts dont give the acuity you need, and monovision (one eye for distance and one for near) is not allowed by the FAA. You must use either single-vision reading glasses over the contacts or progressives over the contacts. In these cases, you may simply be better off using progressive lenses alone for flying.

What lens is best for airplane window? ›

What Lens to Use. A focal length of around 50mm is a perfect compromise between wide-angle and telephoto since the field of view out an airplane window is pretty narrow anyway. A wider focal length would start capturing more of the window frame and airplane wing.

Does FAA allow progressive lenses? ›

The FAA requires pilots to wear corrective devices at all times while conducting their aviation duties. Farsighted (hyperopic) individuals may need assistance from things like reading glasses as they age. The FAA will require that these pilots rely on bifocals, progressive lenses, or half-cut reading lenses.

What is the main drawback of progressive lenses? ›

Progressive lenses also have some disadvantages. They can be more expensive than bifocals or trifocals. These lenses also require a larger frame size to accommodate the multiple corrective zones. Also, because of how they work, progressive lenses can cause peripheral blurriness.

What are the disadvantages of progressive lenses? ›

If wearers are not used to multiple changes in lens power, progressive lenses can make them nauseous and dizzy at first. Another disadvantage is that peripheral vision can be slightly altered by the changes that occur at the edge of progressive lenses.

Why do optometrists push progressive lenses? ›

A progressive lens is a glasses lens design that offers clarity at both distance and near objects, depending on where you look within the lens. They are often prescribed for patients with presbyopia, referring to one's increasing difficulty in seeing objects up close.

What is the best focal length for aviation? ›

70-300mm is a great focal range for the most flexibility, wide enough to get full formations in, while still being able to pick out singular aircraft on the closer passes.

What size lens is best for travel? ›

For travel photography, you want a lens that goes from fairly wide (16mm – 30mm) on the wide end, through to fairly zoomed in (70mm – 150mm) on the narrow end. This will give you good flexibility, letting you shoot wide scenes such as buildings on city streets, through to zooming in on the details.

Which lens will use to get better quality image if we want to shoot flying bird in a distance? ›

If you want to do flight photography hand-holding your camera and lens, the best choices are the 400mm f/5.6 and the 100–400mm IS. These are, by far, the best lenses on the market for flight photography.

What is the alternative to progressive lenses? ›

Besides progressives and bifocals, there are also trifocal lenses or bifocal contacts. Like progressives, trifocals offer three fields of vision, but have two visible segment lines that mean a double image jump. New designs in bifocal contact lenses are also an alternative.

Can you wear prescription glasses as a pilot? ›

The answer is YES – you can wear glasses and be an airline pilot! Perfect uncorrected vision is not a requirement to be a pilot or an air traffic controller. Glasses, contact lenses and refractive surgery are all (with certain limitations) acceptable ways to correct visual acuity problems.

Do I need 20 20 vision to be a pilot? ›

Federal Aviation Regulations require that a pilot's distant vision be 20/20 or better, with or without correction, in EACH eye separately to hold a first or second class medical certificate. The standard for near visual acuity (16″) is 20/40 in each eye separately.

What is the salary of a commercial pilot? ›

An Entry Level Pilot with less than three years of experience earns an average salary of ₹19.2 Lakhs per year. A mid-career Pilot with 4-9 years of experience earns an average salary of ₹35.8 Lakhs per year, while an experienced Pilot with 10-20 years of experience earns an average salary of ₹52.1 Lakhs per year.


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