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First of all: Don’t believe those people who say “if you don’t drink much you won’t have to pee much.” Dehydration is a real danger and not to be taken lightly.
Therefore make sure you always stay hydrated. – And with that comes the need for a reliable, comfortable plumbing system.
Types of plumbing and disposal options
To prevent spamming the personal email addresses have been altered slightly – to reconstruct them take out the spaces, replace dot with ‘.’ and use the normal @ sign.
- Attends or Tena – Someone mentioned Aldi nappies, too!
- Tena: Available in supermarkets and chemists
- Attends: proper incontinence products for adults (http://www.attends.co.uk). – Now also available at Boots and Amazon and possibly other retailers.
- Of the Attends nappies the “Slip Active” seems to be the best option
- M stands for the size, 10 for the heavy-dutiness
- The slip has the advantage that you can undo the sticky pads if you need to go to the loo before your flight, and then re-attach them in the same place.
They are **not** the same as the ones you buy in most chemists – they are much, much more absorbent and remain comfortable throughout the flight.
It is still prudent to take a change of trousers/knickers in case of accidents.
The in-flight toilet consists of a moulded bit, a vacuum valve connection, an extension hose and 10 urine bags. You can order all bits separately, too.
- Made of 100% soft silicone and sold by Katrin Senne, member of the German Gliding Team
- Currently (2018) approx. €130 – She will post to the UK and accepts PayPal payments.
- Also get replacement pee bags from her, they are much cheaper than in the UK
- Takes a little bit of getting used to and is more comfortable in a more reclined position (less so in the front seat of a Duo)
- Eliminates capacity worries with two pee bags in front of the seat, or even a drain hole in the glider
- Use with a nappy or pad as there’s some spillage when removing it
- Clean and disinfect with Milton or denture tablet
- Best fit it shortly before take-off, else it’s a bit uncomfortable and the tube may slide out
The moulded bit is placed in front of the urinary passage. Push the thicker end of the valve connection into the moulded bit and connect the extension hose 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.
Funnel contraptions with or without pumps
There are some with pumps, others rely on suction.
Home-made funnels made out of Radox bottles
(The Diana King showergel bottle top method)
Detailed instructions and further advice can be found at the bottom of this page.
- Pick‘n‘Mix bags: cheap but not recommended as leaky! 😀
- Proper pee bags: hygienic but plastic waste
- Double-bagged compostable dog poo bags might work as an instantly disposable option
Drain hole in the glider
- Advantage: No need for pee bags, reduces plastic waste
- Talk to a tame inspector
- Double-tubing recommended to keep glider tube clean
- Beware corrosion and general yuckiness
- Some pilots sideslip to avoid corrosion
- Adapt clothing (long zip in trousers)
External Funnels for post-flight relief
Some of these have been tested by a few women for in-flight use and generally found not suitable, but they might be a neat solution for that last pee before launching, or that first pee after landing.
Shewee – https://www.shewee.com/
Go Girl – https://go-girl.com/
The Whiz – http://www.whizaway.com
Further links (some in German but usable with pictures and Google Translate)
Detailed instructions for making and using a simple female pee-device
Diana King describes a funnel arrangement which she has used successfully for many years:
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.
Maureen, a glider pilot from Wales, 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.