Friday, April 28, 2017

The Cure for Boeing Butt

If you’ve ever flown a Boeing you know the problem. It’s called “Boeing Butt.” In all fairness, I’m fairly sure the cockpit “cushions” in all airliners are made from the same vertabrea crushing material. Created by combining the harshest qualities of crushed rock and a wood rasp, the seats are rumored to have spawned the notion of ripping someone a new a__hole.

Being a pilot, I can get over Boeing building planes without hot mics, that many of their seats lack a critical neck saving safety device required in cars for decades (head rests), and the apparent company directive to build ear crushing noise into the last workplace not covered by OSHA. But (no pun intended), I cannot accept their inability to build an acceptable seat.

Pilots lug around a lot of crap. In addition to the stress at home, the number of physical items which go with them on every trip can be staggering. Some even refer to their roll on bag as a mobile home. Look around the airport and you’ll see what I’m discussing. It is not uncommon to see an aircrew member packing three or more bags. For this reason, the thought of adding another item to the list can induce cringes similar to those created by sitting in one of Boeing's cockpit seats.

Amazingly though, the seats are so bad, many pilots choose to add another item to their non-descript, two wheeled, circus wagon. What is it? The luxury of choice is a seat cushion.

The most common example is a simple air inflated camping cushion sold by REI. These things suck. At no point do they work well. Not enough air and you have no cushion – too much air and you are sitting on a beach ball. And yet, thanks to its deflated compactness, pilots carry them out of desperation; each of them getting high on the placebo effect.

What do I carry? For the longest time it was nothing. Every flight was torture. Then a friend sent me an Oregon Aero Softseat Portable Cushion.

Out of the box, my first thought was that it was big. Again, when something is a pain to carry, the idea of keeping track of it will cause a pilot to leave it at home. Yet, I had to try it.

The first issue was figuring out a way to carry it carefree. It would be nice if it had the clips that would allow it to attach to many roll on bags, but it doesn’t.  Another solution was needed.

When I figured it out, it made great sense and was less hassle than carrying a third bag.  The photo at the top is how it looks. Basically, the hook strap goes through the carry handle of the cushion’s carry bag(an accessory), then onto the second bag you typically drag around. This locks it in place. Quite easy.

Warning: The first time you bring this cushion to work it will feel like you are carrying a small badger or a lava lamp. It really stands out as something not typically seen in the crew area. Well, after almost two decades in the cockpit, I guess the lava lamp isn’t really that odd. But, nobody carries small size badgers. Therefore, don’t be surprised if someone asks you what it is. And don’t be surprised if you hesitate to answer. Nobody wants to be the pansy.

When you place the Oregon Aero magic butt cradle in the seat that changes. It actually fits onto the Boeing “cushion” as if it were made to spec. I was amazed. It gave me hope. Then I sat on it.

Strange, is the only way I can describe the experience of comfort while staring at the Boeing brown panel. Up to that point, I could have argued it was that color that made my ass hurt. After trying out the Softseat, I knew it was the seat all along.

If you’re a pilot, and you know the struggle, I encourage you to try the Softseat. It is a great addition to every cockpit. You’ll arrive less fatigued, say goodbye to “Boeing Bed Sores,” and wonder why you waited so long.

Looking down on the seat with the Softseat addition.
Fits perfectly and provides improved lumbar support.

1 comment: said...

I feel for Boeing pilots, butt then I could be wrong. However, any J3 Cub pilot knows "Cub Butt" is ever-present when taking flights of 2 hours or more. I have found one solution that works, but it comes with the requirement to be thick skinned due to questions and some good natured ribbing.

After two days in the Cub flying from Chino, California to Snyder, Texas the seat in the Cub ceased to provide comfort (even though it had Tempur Foam in the cushions). I headed to the local Walmart and picked up one of those donut shaped cushions folks use after hemorrhoid surgery. I filled it to about one third capacity and found it work very well. Unfortunately it was a rather bright red rubber (don't get the cheap vinyl ones, they burst after a decent bounce from turbulence). I still use it to this day and it still works really well.

I have armed myself with a retort for spectator comments about my cushion that occasionally works. I tell them, "It's my way of demonstrating I know my arse from a hole in the ground."

Bern Heimos