John M. White

Air Force Aviator Sunglasses

Dec 23, 2019

My USAF Service:

I served in the U.S. Air Force many years ago, not as a pilot but as a Russian linguist. After training at Syracuse University and Goodfellow AFB I spent one year on a small island at the end of the Aleutian Chain (Shemya) and another three years at Chicksands RAF base in England.

While in the Air Force I met many pilots, all of whom wore these really cool sunglasses. It turns out that the DoD (Department of Defense) purchases and issues sunglasses to all USAF pilots.

 Air Force Aviator Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering

I wanted a pair in gold with those straight side arms called bayonet temples. When I finally was able to get a pair I guarded them because everyone else wanted a pair. That was back then and I still have that very same pair today, much worn, parts replaced but still cool.

Enter Randolph Engineering:

Randolph Engineering, Inc. has been the primary supplier of sunglasses to the DoD since 1980. Prior to that American Optical AO Eyewear supplied aviator sunglasses to the DoD, including during WWII.

In order to win that contract Randolph had to meet some very stringent requirements as outlined in DoD Document MIL SPEC S-25948. These military grade sunglasses are also identified as HGU-4/P the scope of which covers the requirements for sunglasses.

MIL SPEC S-25948 Requirements:

  • Not less than 14% nickel silver base metal;
  • The base metal shall be plated with a non-brightening nickel plate of not less than 100 micro inches;
  • The chrome plated parts shall have a dull matte finish;
  • The nose pads and temple tips shall be made of a clear, colorless cellulose acetate butyrate;
  • The glass used for the lenses shall be of high quality, ophthalmic crown glass of neutral density;
  • Daylight transmittance (VLT) shall be a maximum of 15% (but always less than daylight);
  • The lenses shall be impact resistant.

There are over 27 pages in the document including drawings and additional quality requirements.

Today Randolph Engineering Aviator Sunglasses, including those on the civilian market, meet or exceed these requirements.

The Civilian Marketplace: 

Randolph Aviators

A number of years ago decided to sell them to the consumer market as well. 

The next time you run across and Air Force pilot and wonder about their cool sunglasses, you will know.

Today those sunglasses are sold as Randolph Aviators.

John M. White a/k/a JetAviator7

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