Since we plan to use our RV-3 for traveling as well as just fooling around locally, we wanted to go with a comfortable cockpit. I’ll admit right up front – the seat from Oregon Aero is as comfortable as it gets, but it is probably the heaviest single component that we have added to the airplane (I’m guessing more than the 430W)!
Randy Lervold used Oregon Aero for the seat cushions on his outstanding -3 a couple of years ago, so we knew that they had a pattern. We also knew that he had gone through several iterations to get it right, and we found that still to be true for us. We had cut a deal at Osh2010 with a couple of nice price breaks (thanks VAF!) that combined for a nice discount. This locked in a price, and allowed us to work with them in subsequent months when we had the time. We knew that we were going to have to work on the cushion height because we have a Todd’s “Tall Man” canopy, and wanted to sit up for good visibility. Oregon had us stack phone book on the seat pan until we were happy with our eye height, then give them the thickness of the resulting stack – this corresponded to the “compressed Height” of the cushions they would build – since they know how uncompressed foam translates to compressed foam, it was all they needed, along with the outline of the seat pan, and they had this.
Unfortunately, when we got our foam delivery, it was clear that they don’t build very many RV-3 seats – there was a cutout for a manual flap lever (which we don’t have) – but it was on the WRONG SIDE! It appeared to us that someone put the pattern on up-side-down. Oh well – that was why we did a trial fitting. The seat height was perfect though, and the only other adjustment was to the width and depth of the stick cutout. With these marked on the foam, we sent it back for upholstery. We had chosen a gray sheepskin for comfort and to go with our interior colors. I like the feel of sheepskin when it is either hot or cold – my personal preference over leather. The seat back is done the same way as the bottom, and is easily removable - to be replace with a parachute (we are having a Micro-Softie made with the same color sheepskin that should drop right in).
As it turns out, it might have been a good idea to go one more round with the foam before going to upholstery – there is no doubt we’d have done that if we had been closer – because when the beautifully-finished cushions came back (complete with seat heaters installed), they had done everything right except for the stick cut-out. They had made it exactly the right depth and width, but when they upsized the width from 4” to 5”, they took 1” off one side to do so – making the cut-out off-center. Hmm…..must have been a Friday. Nevertheless, they were committed to doing the job right, so back they went for free modification. It took some time (I guess they knew that we weren’t flying right away), but they came back this week and fit perfectly! The quality of work is everything we had been told to expect from Oregon Aero, and we can’t wait to fly with them. And for those following after us in RV-3’s….I think that they now understand which way is “up” on their pattern…..