Review: American Optical AO Original Pilots Aviator Sunglasses Made in USA



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Thanks for supporting me on Patreon: Taking a look at the exceptional provenance and design of these benchmark aviator sunglasses. The “moon” sunglasses worn on a number of NASA missions, also worn on Mad Men by Don Draper

Check out my next sunglasses video, the Ray Ban Aviator Flat Metal Ultrathins:

28 thoughts on “Review: American Optical AO Original Pilots Aviator Sunglasses Made in USA”

  1. The only thing Rayban has on these is the weight. These are very heavy and after about a half hour gave me headache from the constant pressure on the bridge of my nose. 10 out of 10 on the looks department though…

  2. I clean out houses for a living, and I found a Vietnam piolets gold pair of these glasses, along with his ribbons and his 22 double nine. I have been wearing them for a month now and they are the best glasses I have ever worn and they don't have a single scratch, which is beyond impossible with me.

  3. I've been buying these for years. I buy the green glass for the look and the amber for driving. They are great sunglasses. Unfortunately, I have a habit of being rough on my shades. I have accidentally stepped on them, dropped them down the side of a mountain and even had a pair fly off my face while riding a motorcycle and looking backward (into my blind spot) on the Interstate. It gets pretty expensive to have to keep paying this much for sunglasses but I love them so much, I do it anyway.

  4. I received mine in the mail and three days later I noticed a hairline crack in the lens. So i called them to find out what to do. The lady had quite an attitude and informed me to fill out the form from their website and not to forget to include $3.95 to cover shipping back to my address. Shipping, with insurance for $110 was $10.95 at USPS. So, yeah, I get to spend an extra $14.90 to get a pair of glasses that arn't broken. Color me happy!!!! I really have to wonder if the knock-off are just as good. Why does Amazon have them 30 and 40 bucks cheaper than American Optical website….. makes me wonder.

  5. I wouldn't touch Ray Ban (aka RB) with a 50 foot pole these days. The quality is gone! For most of my sunglasses purchases it has mainly been 2 brands – AO and RB. I use some other brands for other reasons – example, I do use Oakley wrap arounds for skiing.

    I haven't bought a pair of RBs for myself in 20 years because they lasted and never broke. The same with my AOs. I have given AO and RB as gifts. While AO has remained an excellent choice, RB has gone down hill since their sale to Luxotica in 1999. The first 2 years after the sale they were still making quality items….so technically 2001 is the last year I ever bought and gave RBs as a gift. Ever since, it has been AO. Seriously…the RBs fall apart! The frames are flimsy. The lenses go loose and fall out.

    The funny thing is, once I give a pair of AOs as a gift, people love them! So many people don't know about AO. I then challenge them to compare the AOs vs new RBs and they can tell right away that RB has gone to China.

    The one thing AO has not done, SADLY, is to offer a wider variety of designs. That is their huge mistake. Someone over there in charge has a very hard head about change.

  6. I've been wearing these since the 70's and throughout my entire police career. I am now retired and still wear these excellent glasses. Love my AO' s and am on my third pair. Buy these glasses from AO. You can't go wrong!

  7. I've owned two pairs of AO Pilots and one pair of the version produced by Randolph Engineering. The case of the RE's is leatherette with a snap, so it's a little more fancy. But the quality of both glasses themselves appear comparable. The difference is that the AO's are the originals, and they're considerably less expensive. And I can vouch for the optical clarity of the AO lenses. Namely that of my lens of choice, the glass Cosmetans, they are without fault.  

    * The Original Pilot is quite stylish in any setting, but there are a couple of reasons why they may be too specialized to be worn practically during rigorous activity. As noted in the video, the glass lens variants are heavy, which makes the frames prone to slippage, particularly if your head is moving about, or you're sweating. The good thing, is that the metal frame, arms, and nose pads are malleable. So you can gently work them into a more personal fit. 

    * I can't speak for the spatula or cable arms, but the bayonet arms provide only moderate support. As they are designed primarily to be braced by, and worn comfortably beneath helmets/headsets. And in that context, I'm sure their level of support is sufficient… As a side note, I have experienced green oxidation beneath the clear plastic of the bayonet arms, which is a little unsightly, and impossible to get to for cleaning… But factory replacement arms are available.

    * Also, over time, the light clear coat that is applied to my gold frames has a tendency to flake off. Scraping off loose flakes of clear coat with a fingernail seems to clean it up. And I haven't noticed any adverse wear to the gold finish from this… To AO's credit, they have actually flaked less than the nearly identical, and more costly RE frames I had.

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