Oz Report - Superfloater%2525252520fixes

Superfloater fixes (Mar.18'02 6.056#6)

Max Broadway <maxb> writes:

As a former sailplane pilot now into hang gliding, I have been reading with interest the discussions on the superfloater.  Would that I could have a test fly!  However, I digress.

Prior to gliding days, I used to motorcycle a fair bit.  After a few hours "in the saddle", the seat foam of the Yamaha I was then riding would compress solid, and at that point I'd have been just as comfortable sitting on a solid steel beam for all the cushioning from road shocks it provided.  I noted that, once I started flying sailplanes, the same would occur.

Seats in the IS28's I flew for nigh on 10 years were made of the same poly foam as on my motorbike, and the ex-armchair cushions provided by the gliding club to alter pilot positioning were of the same kind.  I am fairly short for a bloke at 5' 7", and nearly always had to rely on extra foam to reach the glider rudder pedals.

Initially, it was fine, but 2 hours in the seat and it was Numb Bum for sure!  However, some pilots began to realise that the risk was greater than just Numb Bum - there is also potential risk of spinal damage from the deadly combination of fully compressed foam and a hard landing.  I understand paraglider pilots may also suffer the same risk.

At that point, confor foam was often promoted, and offered a solution to the problem.  See: http://www.seatfoam.com/prod01.htm for more info.  Perhaps this is similar to the hi-tec "dynafoam" Nick quoted, or the Temper/Astronaut foam mentioned by Steve in issue 55 of your report?

I know from seeing samples that confor foam comes in differing densities which could be utilised to maintain seat cushion thickness for differing pilots, and this also may be a useful characteristic for maintaining C of G on superfloaters and the like.

Hal Hayden <hal> writes:

Dave Broyles is right - the Superfloater flies very much like an ultralight taildragger.  He allowed me to fly one of his soon after he got two of them in 1995 nearAustin and it was a blast.  It was a very light late winter afternoon and I was truck-towed to about 1200 feet.  I felt comfortable both on tow and after release.  The SF felt very secure and predictable and I was able to crank it right around to work the small weak thermals that day.  Landing was straightforward, too.  (I did have quite a bit of 3 axis time, including sailplanes.)

Now that I have some land with a runway and hanger, I am considering adding a SuperFloater to my flying toy collection.  Are they still being made?  Probably not.  I'll have to start looking for nice second-hand one.

Superfloater fixes (Mar.17'02 6.055#4)

nick chitty <Valchitty> writes:

It is quite something when my wife gets quoted on the famed Oz Report before I do.  Well looks like the secret is out about the super floater.  It is an amazing recreational aircraft.  Something that some of us forget is that we are supposed to be enjoying ourselves.  I have flown mine for 4-5 hours, but I have dynafoam in my seat.

Plus be careful if you use different seat arrangements as the original idea was to use different thickness of seat backs to change the CG.  So if you are small you use the thicker back rest.  Thicker chusions also help you reach the rudders is you are short.

I wish I could get mine to Zapata, and really use it in anger.  I have also enclosed the bottom half of it with an old Mylar sail.  This helps clean things up a bit.  But hey the super floater was designed to put a grin on your face.  What price glide angle for that pleasure?

Steve <Zulufive> writes:

It's not how many cushions, it how good the one is.  Get some Temper/ Astronaut foam.  My Libelle was very uncomfortable after 2 hours and now with the Temper foam 5 is no problem.  It's available from Tim at Wings and Wheels http://www.wingsandwheels.com/ or from McMaster-Carr.  This will also help prevent a back injury in a hard landing.

Mike Waters and I came up with a short term fix to help out a bit with support for one's butt:

Mike will be ordering the Astronaut foam tomorrow as we think we want even more comfort.

We are aware of the CG issue.  Mike says that he has swung his legs all the way back as far as he could and still had little effect on the characteristics of the glider.  I guess he was trying for a flat spin.

The main problem is that the Superfloater was not designed for a reclined pilot.  So much for the Barca-lounger.  I'm happy to hear that Nick can have 5 hour flights with his foam.

Moderns gliders appear to take the pilot ergonomics what more into account.