I think Pete must have been
rushed when it came time to make a seat for the Fly
Baby. The airplane was ready to fly, and he
needed SOME way to sit in it.
So he took a couple pieces of plywood and a few
hinges, and made a seat. Had notches on the
lower part so it could be adjusted fore and aft, then
went on to more-important projects.
When I first started flying Pete's N500F in the 1980s,
I thought that seat was going to cripple me.
Damn, was it EVER uncomfortable. Fifteen minutes
of flitting around the pattern, OK, but for longer
trips....sheesh. The base wasn't too bad, but
the straight back gave no support at all. All
the pressure was on one spot on your back.
(It should be noted that three members of EAA Chapter
26 flew N500F to Oshkosh in 1982 and 1987. Never
heard any complaints about the seat from THEM.
However, none of them flew the airplane again once
their trip was done....).
One of my first cuts at aircraft modifications was
building a new seat for N500F. It's not a
structural element, just sits on the cockpit floor
rails, so it's not a critical component. I
carved some wood in a seat-like shape, bent a piece of
aluminum around it, glued down a square of carpet, and
made a framed back with a kind of webbing.
Worked, though still not very comfortable.
When I started building the Fly Baby web page in the
mid-90s, one of the first things I posted about was a
warning about the seat. You can still find it.
Both seats went with the new owner, when Pete sold
N500F in 1994. I bought half-interest in a
Stinson 108, and put Fly-Baby-dom out of my mind.
Then, in 1996, I was offered a pristine Fly Baby (with
just 80 hours in it). I sold my half-interest
back to my partner, and bought the plane I eventually
'Raker came with an elegant seat. It was
fiberglass at the core, had some light foam for
padding, and professional job of tufted vinyle
Beautiful seat. It's the left-most in this
picture...along with the other two seats that replaced
it, over the years.
The seat is semi-reclined, and one's rear end is
Didn't matter to
guy I bought it from; he was so short that
when he stood, his legs barely reached the
ground. Made a difference to me, who has
average height (six feet) but
disproportionately long legs.
I bought 'Raker at
Arlington airport, and had to fly it 80 miles to
the home drome. It was killing me all the way. I
crawled out of the airplane after I landed, and
said, "I *gotta* build a new seat before I fly
Had one ready a
couple of days later. I'd gone to Boeing
Surplus (sadly demised) and bought a
fiberglass stacking chair that came with
steel-tube legs. Removing the legs was easy,
as was building a sort of "box" to adapt it to
the Fly Baby seat frame.
One problem was,
like the original seat, the new fiberglass
seat had a pretty good recline. Putting my
heinie where I had good legroom meant the back
of the seat terminated somewhere behind the
STA 5 bulkhead.
I got sneaky and took a bit of aluminum (also
from Boeing Surplus) and cut a new back. It
laid into the existing back, but because it
wasn't bent, it was far more vertical. A
little foam, a bit of canvas, and I had a
pretty good seat. It's the one in the middle.
But fifteen years later, my right knee was giving
me fits, and I developed the "ejection
" That's it on the far right. I was
doing some upholstery cleanup so it looks a bit
Jim Katz put a stock seat in his airplane, and I
haven't heard him complain since. Here's a
couple of shots.
Jeff Gray did a nice seat from
More details on this seat
I also vaguely remember
conversations about a Toyota seat being
converted to fit a Fly Baby, but can's seem to
rustle up any pictures.