The aviator sunglasses came to be in the early 1900s, when pilots began flying so high that their eyes risked freezing if they didn’t protect them from icy blasts and temperatures around minus 50 Celsius. With leather overalls and heavy hoods, a pair of fur-lined, drop-shaped goggles were an absolute must for the aircraft pioneers.
In 1920, American aviator Shorty Schroeder became the first man to fly a biplane over 10,000 metres, but his record-setting flight was close to ending in disaster – because of his glasses. The pair fogged up and Schroeder had no choice but to take them off mid-flight, making his vision blurry and his eyes frozen, and leaving him basically blind thousands of metres above land. Luckily, he managed to land his biplane, but his eyes were damaged. After the incident, another pilot, John Macready, decided to try the stunt himself, also depending fully on the goggles to defend his vision. Macready’s eyes didn’t freeze, instead his eyes were injured by the bright rays of sun up in the stratosphere.