Supplement to Greg Amy's article
January 23, 2002
|About the Author ...
Greg Amy is an
850-hour instrument-rated private pilot by vocation, and a network engineer for a network
integration firm by occupation. He lives in Milford, Connecticut, with his wife and two rescued
German Shepherd dogs.
Greg developed a passion for flying as a kid flying remote-control
and control-line airplanes, and briefly flew gliders in his early teens before flying
interests were put aside for a mechanical engineering degree and an eight-year stint of
sports car racing. Greg returned to flying in 1994 when he earned his private certificate.
The next year, he bought a "worn-out" Grumman Tiger, which he's slowly
refurbished as time and budget allowed, and in which he earned his instrument rating in
His current passions are long-distance IFR cross-country trips in his Tiger or his
BMW motorcycle. Greg says he aspires to build an Experimental replacement for his Tiger
I had been suffering with the original front
seats in my 1977 Tiger since I bought the plane more than three years ago. I really didn't
like those seats. Since I was refurbishing the interior, I decided to make a change.
As a first step, I had a well-known Grumman
aficionado upgrade my seat backs to the 78-79 version. This required bolting the
later-style backs onto my modified seat pans.
Next, I wanted to make the cushions a lot
better. We've heard many a testimonial for Temperfoam. A few years before, I had put the
standard you-cut-it-to-fit Temperfoam in my stock '77 seat bottoms, and that was a pretty
good improvement. This time around, since I had to replace the seat bottoms anyway, I took
a different tack.
Oregon Aero offers generic seat bottoms made of
Conforfoameffectively the same stuff as Temperfoam. Oregon Aero's are different in that
they offer a complete contoured seat bottom, with an attractive and durable upholstery
cover. They're available in one- or two-inch thickness, with or without a Conforfoam
lumbar support built in. I ordered the two-inch model with the lumbar cushionabout $250
delivered for a pair.
Oregon Aero also offers complete replacement
seats, with contoured foam both on the bottom and back of the seats. I thought about doing
this, but decided against it for two reasons. First, they needed the seats on site for the
work, and I was too impatient. And second, it would have cost about $425 per seat, with a
standard material for a covering.
Initially, I tested the seat bottom by simply
replacing the original seat bottom with the Oregon Aero cushion. What a difference! I'd
suggest this to anyone as an immediate upgrade. I was concerned about the height, though,
as I'm over six feet tall. Once I tried it on for size, I decided to trim the seats down
to one-inch thickness instead. According to Oregon Aero, this still provides optimal
support and comfort without bottoming out.
Next, I took the later-model front seat
assemblies and the new Oregon Aero bottoms to a local upholstery shop and had them covered
in my favorite print material. The Grumman aficionado had returned the seats with only the
seat back frame hoopno foam, no other webbing. To support the foam, the upholsterer
riveted in fire-retardant seat belt webbing in a grid across the main hoop and carved out
foam to fit around it. We used standard foam for the seat back. The high-tech stuff would
have been prohibitively expensive. The upholsterer did a fantastic job.
Since I had ordered the Oregon Aero seat bottoms
with the lumbar cushion but still wanted my seat bottom to be removable, we disconnected
the lumbar cushion from the seat bottom and added it to the foam on the seat back.
I bolted them into the airplane, and they're way
cool! These seats are as comfortable as the sport seats in my Audi!
I can see the next question coming: How much?
Late-model seat backs: cost unknown. The
Grumman aficionado hasn't sent me a bill yet. It won't be free.
Oregon Aero parts: $250 for the two seat
bottoms with generic material (mine were charcoal). I got the two-inch thickness, I
suggest you get the one-inch thickness with the lumbar cushion, unless you're vertically
challenged and you need the altitude.
If you're just looking for a more comfy seat
bottom, this is what you should get, in your favorite color.
Seat covers: Well, I'm into the interior (all
four seats and side panels) for about $1,500. That's for a custom job with automotive
prints and vinyl, but that's still not much more than, for instance, a standard Airtex
Note that Oregon Aero strongly urged me not to
try to cram their foam into a standard seat cover, as it may compress the foam the wrong
way and hurt the safety and comfort of the design. If you get the lumbar cushion, you can
remove it and stuff it under your existing seat back cover, or Velcro it to the outside.
I love my new seats!
Reprinted with permission from The American Star,
the bimonthly newsletter of the American Yankee
Association. Contact (530) 676-4AYA or