Liz’s collected information for women pilots.
This information is now (Dec 2014) several years old. Some details may be wrong
Systems seem to fall into three categories, broadly describable as nappies, external-funnels and internal. All three types have convinced users. I flew without plumbing for many years - but have become totally convinced that it’s much better with than without. Following a discussion on this at the Bicester development day several people sent information, and I append it below.
To prevent spamming I’ve altered the email addresses slightly - to reconstruct them take out the spaces, replace dot with ‘.’ and use the normal @ sign. If you have an alternative or any feedback let me know at ebertoya at iee dot org.
Kay Draper writes: For those interested in the “personal hygiene” matters we discussed at Bicester. I have been speaking to Attends who have sent me some samples of their new products. I will bring them along to Lash if we get together so you can see them before I give them a trial. They also now produce an insert pad called the Deoplus (for those long flights) and an under sheet called the Cover-Dri, which I think she said was washable, to protect your seat. Looking at it I’m not sure how slippery it would be so will try it out to assess the risk of submarining in the seat.
Liz adds: Kay convinced me to try Attends after years of flying with no plumbing; I now use them and so far have found them reliable. They are not the same as the ones you buy in most chemists - they are much, much more absorbent. They are comfortable to wear and are made with a gel that absorbs the liquid and so remain dry in use. It is prudent to take a change of trousers/knickers in case of accidents but I have not had to use that yet.
Claudia Buengen suggests: One option (which was recommended to me by a bloke, so I have no idea whether the female version actually works) was the “stadium gal”. I’m not sure this is available in the UK.
See www.whizaway.com Kay and Liz will be trying and reporting back on this flexible funnel arrangement. Claims to be used by glider pilots already.
Instructions for making and using a simple female pee-device
Diana King described a funnel arrangement that she has used successfully for many years. I picked up this idea from Annie Laylee, it has revolutionised my long flights. For years I wore terry towelling nappies and plastic pants and thought I had the problem solved, even though uncomfortably. Now I have my pee-tube I would not go back to nappies for anything! The only way in which the old system is better is that having a pee in nappies is simply a matter of letting go, whereas the tube system needs a bit more attention. In every other way the tube is vastly better. Practise using it one-handed on the ground before you try it for real. Don’t forget to go on flying the glider and looking out while you’re busy!
The first thing to say is that this is a very simple, low-tech, system. My philosophy is that the simpler the arrangement is, the less there is to go wrong! The basic kit is an oval shape shampoo or shower gel bottle. There are two alternative arrangements, one for gliders with a built in pee-tube, and one to work with plastic bags.
Plastic Bag method
Cut most of the base out of the bottle leaving a bit of a rim to give the “funnel” some rigidity. Cut off the top of the bottle, leaving it about 4 inches long and shape it in a nice curve to fit you. You may need some trial and error to get this bit right, so cut off the minimum initially. In order to make the cut off end of the bottle more comfortable, we experimented with split tubing fitted round the plastic to cushion the edges, but this tended to leak. For the short time you will use the device, the cut off plastic edge is not too uncomfortable if smoothed off well. Firmly tape a medium size freezer bag around the bottom end of the bottle, leaving a tag of tape to make it easier to pull the tape off after use. Freezer bags are less likely to split or puncture than ordinary plastic bags.
Note that the top end of the funnel should be curved to fit, not cut straight across.
Pee tube method
This is easier to use, partly because, if the tube exits in the right place, the venturi effect helps to suck the liquid away. Remember to wash the glider afterwards to avoid corrosion to metal parts. Our latest system extends the tube through the fuselage so that about 6 inches sticks down below the bottom of the glider - we hope that this allows the liquid to flow out below the fuselage surface and reduces the potential for corrosion.
The ideal bottle is a shower gel bottle with a hollow tube for the hook. A corner hollow tube makes the connection to the glider tube easier because the pee runs naturally out of the corner; it has also proved more leak-free for tube fitment. Cut off the other end of the bottle to fit your shape as above. Cut off part of the hook, leaving sufficient to push on a connecting tube (beer making or instrument tubing is suitable). The connecting tube then push fits onto the glider pee-tube. The fit at both ends of the connecting tube should be as tight as possible; tape around all joins.
If you can’t find a bottle with a suitable hook part, the alternative is to fit a connecting tube into the cap of a bottle, but we found this to be less successful.
I have some baggy cotton trousers in which I have unpicked the groin seam and stitched in a modesty flap which does up with poppers while I am on the ground. As I do a lot of winter wave flying, I also have a specially commissioned Ozee suit with a zip in the appropriate place. (This needs care zipping and unzipping!) An alternative is leggings and a baggy T shirt or sweatshirt over the top. In either case it is easiest to fly without knickers!
Using either type of device takes a bit of practice. Try it first at home sitting in the bath. Then try it in your cockpit on the ground. A major problem is psychological; you have to overcome all those years of potty training and teach yourself that it’s okay to pee in your favourite seat. It helps to sit on something waterproof (a baby changing mat is good) or some towelling. Carry plenty of tissues. This will all help to give you confidence that you won’t make a mess. Depending on the shape of the glider seat and cockpit, you probably need to raise your bottom up as much as you can (very good for the stomach and leg muscles!). Make sure that the tube is running straight without kinks or that the bag is laid downhill - push it down beside the stick. Press the funnel firmly into position - with practice you will be able to do this one-handed. Now relax so that you are able to pee! After using the system, remove the funnel carefully by lifting up the end nearest to you so as to empty any liquid into the bag or tube. If you are using a bag, carefully rip off the tape, twist the top of the bag and throw it out of the clear vision panel. Don’t throw the funnel out! - keep it for next time.
Some people stow the bags in the cockpit, but my view is that the risk of punctures is not worth it, although I admit that chucking plastic bags out over the countryside is not very nice. [Liz comment - I do not condone throwing anything out of a glider, particularly if it is not biodegradable. As a fellow pilot and farmer writes: Cows in particular are prone to eating that sort of thing causing blockages and big vets bills.] When you have a quiet spell, tape on a new bag ready for the next time. If this all sounds impossible, just keep practising in situations where you are not under pressure, until it gets easier. I can now use either system in most situations; the only times which defeat me are if I’m struggling low down in difficult conditions, or if there’s a lot of other glider traffic about, such as on a busy ridge.
And finally - Good luck!
Do feel free to get back to me if you have problems understanding this or sorting it out, or if I can help with anything else. diana at gerontius dot demon dot co dot uk
Maureen Weaver (maureen dot weaver at ntlworld dot com) sent details of the arrangement she uses: I thought you might like proper pictures of the relief pump in case any of the women pilots ask for more info, so I’ve attached them. Also the description of how to use it as sent by Roland Schmitt, who builds them. His email address is MagicRoland at compuserve dot com
Unfortunately we do not have a proper English description of the device, but I have attached a number of photographs that should pretty much explain how the device works. The little plastic box contains the vacuum pump, which - if the little switch is engaged - applies suction to the grey storage tank. This storage tank MUST be stored near upright, in single seaters there is normally enough room behind your right shoulder. If there is space in the baggage compartment both the pump and the storage tank can go there, but there would be a need to modify the tank slightly so that no liquid enters the suction side of the system. The tank holds roughly 1.3 litres - informed sources say this is enough to use the system 4 to 5 times.
The mask is anatomically shaped and will normally be stored in a little plastic bag with a clean washcloth around it. After usage the system in drained via the screw on connectors of the tubing and rinsed with water. Be careful not to lose the O-rings in the connectors on doing so. At this stage it is possible to add a mild disinfectant as well.
In-Flight Toilet for Female Pilots
The in-flight toilet consists of a moulded bit, a vacuum valve connection, an extension hose and 10 urine bags. The urine bags are available in any (German) pharmacy.
The moulded bit is made of 100% soft silicone and is placed in front of the urinary passage. After use the moulded bit can be cleaned with soap or disinfectant. Push the thicker end of the valve connection into the moulded bit (100% silicone) and connect the extension hose (also 100% silicone) to the thinner end of the valve. The valve stops a vacuum building up in the urine bag. Connect the urine bag to the extension hose.
We recommend that you also use pant liners as a few drops can remain in the moulded bit and may leak
Cost: €84 plus postage and bank fees. Order by email. Payment by bank transfer.
Liz adds that these details were originally supplied by Claudia Buengen, but the device is sold by Katrin Senne in Germany, Katrin’s device is the option used by most of the German women’s team. Contact katrin dot senne at gmx dot de or email me (Liz) for a copy of her latest info.