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Flying Eyes Sunglasses Review

Made for Pilots

Flying Eyes sunglasses were created by a pilot for pilots.  The founder of Flying Eyes, Dean Siracusa,  has been flying for the past 14 years, and was unable to find a set of sunglasses that fits comfortably beneath his headset. He found many other pilots have had the same problem, and the idea for Flying Eyes was born.

flying eyes couple

 Created for wearing under an aviation headset

If you are a pilot, you know that it can be challenging finding a set of sunglasses that fit beneath your headset. Many squeeze your head very tightly, making wearing them under a headset or a helmet is very uncomfortable.  On top of it, many sunglasses create a gap that leaks noise through the cups of your headset.

I love my current sunglasses, which are prescription Oakleys, but they are really uncomfortable under my headset: they squeeze my head and they create a gap in my ear cups that leaks noise.

flying eyes sunglasses
The Hawk Convertible by Flying Eyes Optics

Practical and Durable

These are the ideal aviation sunglasses. The sunglasses are the perfect way to protect your eyes while looking great and are virtually unbreakable.  Made from durable Resilamide, these glasses are very durable.


These sunglasses are easily convertible and come with three different options. First, the non-elastic strap that singes  behind your head is perfect for wearing with an aviation headset. It’s super comfortable and has a snug fit, and you can barely see the strap.  The glasses also come with a ultra thin temples that are perfect to wear with a helmet – they are 70% thinner than regular temples but equally strong and resilient. Regular temples are perfect for everyday wear.

Flying Eyes come with three different temple options which are quick to swap.
Flying Eyes come with three different temple options which are quick to swap.

It takes seconds to change the temple styles. Simply click the quick release top and bottom button on the temples and they will pop out. To insert the desired temples simply click them in, and you’re done.

The glasses have an excellent fit and are extremely comfortable to wear. The frames come in either a matte or glossy finish.  The glossy black looks sleek and stylish, while the matte finish is a more low key finish.

Three different types

The sunglasses come in three different types: the Hawk, which start at $169 depending on the type of lens chosen. There are four types of lenses available, the standard solid neutral gray tint being the most popular for pilots. Also available are:

  • Polarized: not recommended for pilots as they interfere with the view of the instrument panel and other devices
  • Gradient Gray Tint: subtle and excellent for blocking out harsh sunlight through the windshield, allowing for easier viewing of the instrument panel
  • Transition photochromic lenses, which darken when you go outside and lighten inside, responding to UV rays

The sunglasses also provide UV 400 protection, on all lenses. This is a very high level of UVA and UVB ray protection, blocking all sunlight up to 400 nm in wavelength.

They also come with a prescription option (starting at $336) and as bifocals (starting at $189).  To get the prescription version, you must send over an Rx from your optometrist and Flying Eyes will do all the work. Presciption range available is from +4.00 to -4.00.



flying eyes in the cockpit

No more IFR Hood

A neat feature of these glasses is they can easily be converted into ‘foggles’ – so you never need an IFR hood ever again.  They are cleverly designed, static-cling labels you can adhere to your sunglasses that turn them instantly into IFR training glasses.   These labels are custom designed for the Flying Eyes sunglasses and block out all extraneous viewing from your line of sight except for the instrument panel in your cockpit. These are available for $12.

instant foggles flying eyes


  • Precision polycarbonate lenses
  • Lightweight Resilamide frames
  • 3 convertible temple options included
  • Soft micro fiber bag and cleaning cloth included
  • Zippered protective hard case

group frame flying eyes

Where to buy

Interested in learning more?  These sunglasses are available online from the Flying Eyes online store.  


There are even more sunglasses to choose from now at Flying Eyes. 

Flying Eyes has been around for several years now and have expanded their product line up. Including the original Hawk convertible sunglasses which are available with or without prescription, which retail for $164- 194, there are also six other models, all made to fit under headsets or helmets. Check out their full product line! They even have classic aviators, the Cooper Titanium, with slim sides for wearing them under your headset. 

Unlike classic aviators, which even though they have thin temples, can still hurt your head, the Flying Eyes Cooper titanium aviators feature micro thin temples, which fit under headsets without pressure or pain, no matter how long you wear them. 

Or, buy them on Amazon for only 159 

These make a great gift.

Pilots love them! 

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The challenges of getting a pilots’ license

Flying is an amazing hobby and a challenging and interesting profession. 

Unfortunately, flying has many challenges, and this is seen in the data.  Many students who start never in fact finish their license.  In Canada, the number of student pilot permits hovers just around 10,000 but the number of private licenses issued in a year is just over 2000 (based on the latest data I could find).  Generally, about 1 in 5 flight students ever finish their license. There are many barriers, most of them financial. Another common problem is becoming disillusioned with flying – that it is simply too big of a commitment than originally thought.  Also, keeping up with it is hard, one has to fly regularly to maintain proficiency, and this can get expensive.

The profession is very gender-unbalanced

A career as a pilot is one of the most gender-unbalanced workplaces that exists today in terms of number of participants.  As we know, there are very few female pilots. Only about 6% of all private licenses are held by women, about 7% of commercial licenses holders are female, and only 3-4% of airline transport licenses are female.  The desires of many operators to have a more gender balanced workforce of pilots can potentially stack the odds in favor of females. That is not saying that you will get a flying job faster because you are female, but applicants with the same level of experience and proficiency and differ only in gender may have employers favoring females, all things equal.

The pilot shortage

We hear much of the looming pilot shortage.  So what’s happening? Boeing and Airbus have predicted it for years and have estimated the shortage to be as high as 500,000 – half a million – new airline pilots required over the next two decades.  This is a worldwide shortage and not just North American,  since most of the growth in airlines is outside of Canada and the U.S.  The bulk of new demand will be from India and the Asia Pacific region.   Though there is definitely some debate about the extent of the pilot shortage, the overseas demand appears to be largely certain to rise.

How to we overcome these hurdles in getting a license?

1.  Be financially prepared

Knowing that money can be an issue we can simply be prepared to pay the initial costs of training. If you budget around $10,000 for your PPL you will be able to complete it without stressing out or worrying about money.  However this is only if you don’t take huge breaks in your training (like me!). These breaks get expensive and it’s frustrating worrying about money when you’re learning.   Flying requires so much concentration you don’t want to have to worry about how you’re going to pay for it.

Can you set aside this kind of money?  If it is a priority for you, you certainly can. You will just have to make some financial trade-offs.

2.  Make time

Make room in your life for flying.  Let your friends and family know that you will sometimes be unavailable in the evenings or weekends; you won’t be able to make some social engagements.  Let people know that this is important to you.  You will find people are very receptive to this and very supportive! They always want to talk about flying and will be interested in your progress. Give yourself time to prepare for flights, review lesson plans, and de-brief on your own time. Come fresh for every flight, you will spend less money when you are prepared and ready to learn.

3. Create a pilot network

Talk to your fellow students; make friends, lean on one another.  If you get frustrated with something, just reach out. You will find that your peers are having many of the same problems that you are.  You will find that the support will go a long way to helping you reach your goals!

Comments? Please add below.

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Pilot Perception: Runway Illusions

On Final

The “softer” side of flying is the human factors side. As advanced as modern aircraft are, pilots are subject to various factors that can cause them to make excellent decisions and judgement calls but sometimes make decisions that can be potentially dangerous. Luckily, illusions pilots experience are well understood and documented.  We know when we may experience an illusion.  In instrument flying for example, we learn how to ignore what our body is telling us – for example, that we are in a steeply banked turn when we are in fact in level flight – we learn how to trust our instruments in IMC.   Sometimes the message our body is telling us can put us in danger if we subscribed to it.

We are governed by the messages our body is sending to our brain.  This affects our flying and our perceptions of certain situations.  When we are approaching a runway with a up or down slope, or when we are approaching a runway that is level but the terrain before the runway is up or down sloping, it is possible and expected to incorrectly plan our approach.

Runway illusions are very common in flying, and are the result of our brain telling us something other than what is actually happening because it is extrapolating on what it sees.

Runway slope illusions. Image courtesy of
Runway slope illusions. Image courtesy of

When a runway is upsloping, the pilot thinks that the runway continues on an upslope from the terrain before it, hence thinking the terrain in front of the runway is upsloping as well.   The pilot will judge their altitude as too high, because they perceive the terrain continues on an upsloping, positive angle towards the runway  and will consequently plan a low approach that can cause landing short of the runway.

The solution? When flying toward a known upslope runway, expect that you will perceive being higher than you actually are and plan to land long on the runway.

When a runway is downsloping, the pilot thinks that they are too low and will consequently plan a higher approach and land long on the runway, or may even have to overshoot.   This is again, because of extrapolating on the slope of terrain before the runway.  Thinking that the terrain continues on a downslope towards the runway, means that the terrain is actually higher away from the runway than on the approach path; so that the entirety of the approach path follows downsloping terrain.  The pilot will incorrectly judge altitude as being too low when in fact he is too high.

The solution to planning an approach on a downsloping runway is to anticipate feeling like you are too low and plan to land short of the runway.

Also, when the runway is level but the terrain before the runway is upsloping: the pilot will extrapolate the same way.  They will think the runway is upsloping as well, and be subject to the same upslope illusion, and should plan to land long.  Alternatively, when the runway is level but the terrain before the runway is downsloping, the runway will also be judged as downsloping, and the pilot should plan to land short to avoid an overshoot.

It is hard to memorize the concept but I found that a good way of learning and remembering the concept is to draw an upsloping or downsloping runway and flat terrain in front of it. Then draw a straight dashed line following the angle of the runway towards the approach path, and this will be the pilots perception of the approach terrain.   From there we can easily imagine whether the pilot will feel too high or too low in each situation.

Rain on the windshield can create the the feeling of greater height and haze can make distances appear greater than they are. This is a favorite Transport Canada exam question as well!

Wide and Narrow Runway IIlusion
Wide and Narrow Runway Illusion

There is also the classic, wide and narrow runway illusions.  When a runway is narrow, this creates the illusion that the plane is higher than it actually is, resulting in a low approach and possible land short of the runway. With a wider runway, the opposite occurs, we perceive the plane lower than actual, and can cause the pilot to flare too high or overshoot the runway.

Writing a lot of exams lately, I noticed that Transport Canada likes to test these topics!

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Headset Review – Powder Puff Pilot

The new ANR Headset is MP3 compatible.

My first purchase as a flight student was a headset. This is quite unarguably your most important purchase, and should be your first and done as soon as you start flying (and can afford it).  Headsets can be purchased for as little as $100 and go up in price according to quality.  The range is about $100 – over $1000. As you can see it is quite a huge price spread. This is an important first purchase – you need to protect your ears while flying and most flight schools offer rental headsets that just don’t fit right, are abused or neglected – and you need something good quality that is your own, so you can take care of it and will serve you well.  They are your ears, so deciding how much to spend is really up to you.  I suggest spending a bit more and getting something better quality and that fits properly.

When I started flying, I found an ad for “Powder Puff Pilot”, a company that makes pilot gear for girls, and purchased their noise attenuating (ANR) headset, and have been using it for years. This was my first headset, and my first purchase as a flight student.

Recently, I received the latest ANR headset from them and there have been some nice improvements.  First, the headset is now MP3 compatible, meaning you can insert a headphone jack into the unit to either listen to music or talk on your phone while in flight!  It is a neat feature and very convenient, and I can’t wait to try it on my cross country flight, where I might have a little more time than I do now, zooming in and out of the practice area or in the circuit.

On final approach, wearing the headset.
On final approach, wearing the headset.


The headsets come with two options, either passive noise reduction (PNR) or active noise reduction (ANR).  The PNR only reduces noise using the insulated gel cups while the ANR actually uses attenuation to actively reduce noise, and requires a battery. I chose the ANR model for maximum noise reduction. The ANR reduces noise attenuation by 20 decibels.

In the ANR model, a tiny microphone in the ear cup picks up noise around it, and this noise “sample” is converted into a mirror opposite of the sound – which is silence. ANR only affects certain low frequencies, so speech aircraft sound, engine sounds and changes are all easily detected.  PNR models only block out noise using the physical clamping of headset on the wearer – squeezing tight to physically block out any noise.   Because of this, they tend to be heavier and bulkier than ANR headsets.

The pink headset from Powder Puff Pilot comes in both ANR and PNR models.  The ANR model comes with a battery pack that takes two AA batteries. When the batteries aren’t inserted (or die) the unit functions as a PNR headset.  The ANR model is priced at $335 and the PNR at $210.

Highly recommend the headset.  Along with the MP3 compatibility, the headset also has thick gel pads on the ears, meaning even without the battery there is good noise cancellation. The headset fits smaller than most and is good for women. The headsets come with a 1 year warranty. The warranty at Powder Puff is excellent and they stand behind their products.

Headsets are available for purchase from our store.

What is your favorite headset?