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P-3 Orion Aft Observer Seat

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Just acquired this P-3A Orion starboard aft observer's seat. I haven't actually received it yet but it is paid for. It was removed last week from a P-3A in a storage yard in Tucson, Arizona that is being used as a source of spare parts for similar aircraft employed in fire-fighting service. I was just informed today that it has been crated up and will be shipped to me very soon. I expect to receive it within the next week or two.


I would like to restore it for personal use as a chair for reading, watching TV, or working on my computer. I spent twenty years as a non-acoustic sensor operator on P-3s and have many hundreds of hours as an aft observer on pilot proficiency training flights, cross countries, etc.


Can anybody recommend somebody who's a specialist in restoring aircraft seats? I have a feeling that this thing might need a new cushion and some work done to the back and head rest. I'd also like to have it mounted on some kind of wheeled base. As far as I know, it was removed from the aircraft by cutting the floor around it with a skill-saw so it includes a section of plywood floor holding the two metal rails that the seat slides side-to-side on.



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  • 3 months later...



Here is my P-3 Orion starboard aft observer seat. Through USN contacts I was able to find all the parts I needed to completely restore this seat. Its from an aircraft, LB 04, that I actually logged time in when I was in VP-MAU Brunswick during the 1980s. At some point, when I get the courage to do so, I'd like to completely disassemble the seat and replace the back netting. I have a complete kit to do this, but everybody that I've spoken to who actually has done this told me that its a real "pain in the rump" to do.

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Yes, I was stunned to discover this, after I had purchased the seat. It came out of P-3A Bureau Number 151357, which was retired in the mid-1990s, sold, and is now sitting in a private aircraft boneyard in Tucson, AZ serving as a source of spare parts for P-3 fire bombers. This aircraft was passed around to various squadrons over the years. During the mid to late 1980s it was assigned to the VP-MAU at Brunswick, ME. This was a reserve squadron augmentation unit that was intended to provide trained replacements for the regular Navy VP squadrons on that base. Each reservist in the VP-MAU had a mobilization billet in one of the regular Navy VP squadrons that they would be assigned to in case of activation. In my case, my mobilization billet was in VP-10. Anyway, this aircraft was designated LB 04 when it was assigned to VP-MAU Brunswick. At that time it had been stripped of all ASW equipment and was used as a so-called "bounce bird" for pilot proficiency training. The "bounce birds" were so-called because they spent most of their time in the landing pattern doing touch-and-goes or "bounces" as we called them. I was in college at that time and used to sign up to serve as an aft observer for as many weekend pilot training flights as I could. These pilot training flights generally had a minimum crew composed of two pilots, a flight engineer, and an aft observer. Once all the preflight work (pulling plugs and covers, fueling, etc) had been completed and you were in the air, there was very little for the aft observer to do on these flights other than watch out for other aircraft entering or leaving the landing pattern. So, these flights provided a good opportunity to get paid to study, which I did. I have many hours in my old Navy logbook sitting in this exact seat as an aft observer.

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