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Publication numberUS3391414 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 9, 1968
Filing dateJul 18, 1966
Priority dateJul 18, 1966
Publication numberUS 3391414 A, US 3391414A, US-A-3391414, US3391414 A, US3391414A
InventorsGordon Donald Wallace
Original AssigneeGordon & Roth Co Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Athlete's pneumatic landing pit cushion
US 3391414 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

July 9, 1968 D. w. GORDON 3,391,414

ATHLETE'S PNEUMATIC LANDING PIT CUSHION 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed July 18, 1966 /0zu pressure 59/: pressure 2]., n 5.1: 3 mwsga INVENTOR. flow/1L0 W'onowv A, Jrroguzr July 9, 1968 D. w. GORDON I ATHLETES PNEUMATIC LANDING PIT CUSHION 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed July 18, 1966 [0w pressure lg pram/re INVENTOR. flan 4w M60200 BY E 7 6 A'rram/ev United States Patent 3,391,414 ATHLETES PNEUMATIC LANDING PIT CUSHION Donald Wallace Gordon, Baldwin Park, Calif., assignor to Gordon & Roth Co., Inc., Temple City, Calif., a

corporation of California Filed July 18, 1966, Ser. No. 566,108 12 Claims. (Cl. -348) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Disclosed herein is a pneumatic landing pit cushion for athletic events, constructed so as to embody a relatively stiff though yieldable rim portion and a softer, more highly yieldable central cushioning body portion, thereby tending to deflect an athletes body inwardly onto the cushioning area rather than outwardly over the periphery of the cushion in the event of a landing near the periphery; and thereby preventing or minimizing the likelihood of injury resulting from deflection off the cushion onto the hard supporting surface around it.

In general, the invention accomplishes this improved result by providing an inflatable cushion having a tubular rim portion which is inflated to relatively high pressure so as to be relatively stiff and only moderately yieldable; and a body portion framed within such rim and inflated to a lower pressure so as to be more highly yieldable and which provides the cushioning action to absorb the impact of the athletes fal'l. Blowers are arranged to deliver air into the rim and into the low pressure area of the cushion respectively to replace air escaping through leaks in the cushion.

Background 0 the invention Pole vaulters and high jumpers landing pits were originally constructed by placing a bed of sawdust in a pit dug in the ground or in a shallow box (for indoor events). Subsequently sponge fragments were substituted for the sawdust, and instead of containing them in a pit or box, they were enclosed in a flexible casing of woven fabric or plastic sheet material. This latter type of cushioning apparatus has proved to be an important improvement over the open pit type in which the sawdust, shavings or sponge fragments had to be restored to a properly heaped condition within the pit after having been thrown outwardly by an athletes landing in the heap of cushioning material. The closed-casing type cushions have eliminated the untidiness of the original open pit type and have provided improved cushioning action, preventing bottoming out through the loosely confined heap of cushioning material against the hard bottom of the pit, but retain the disadvanage of the considerable weight of the cushioning material required for a landing pit which in the case of a vaulters pit is necessarily of fairly large area and depth. It has therefore been found preferably to construct such landing pit cushion-s in several sections which are handled individually and are assembled together to provide a composite cushion of the required dimensions.

The prior art The closed flexible casing type cushion apparatus is represented by my Patent No. 3,204,259, issued Sept. 7, 1965.

Attempts have been made to utilize inflated hollow 3,391,414 Patented July 9, 1968 ice flexible cushions in which compressed air is utilized instead of the weightier sponge fragments, for absorbing the impact of an athletes fall. However, the experience with such cushions prior to the present invention has been unsatisfactory and injurious to athletes in a number of instances, due to the action of the peripheral portion of the cushion in deflecting the athletes body outwardly over the periphery of the cushion Onto the hard supporting surface in those instances where the athletes body lands upon the peripheral portion of the cushion. This has happened even where the entire body of the athlete has contacted the cushion within, though adjacent to the periphery. The cushion of the present inpention, where such a landing occurs, will deflect the athletes body inwardly onto the central cushioning area of the cushion rather than outwardly over its rim.

Description The general object of the invention is to provide a lightweight landing pit cushion apparatus of a pneumatic type, inflated with gas such as air under pressure, and which is safe.

In the accompanying drawings:

-FIG. .1 is a plan view of a landing cushion apparatus embodying a preferred form of the invention as utilized for pole vaulters landings, portions of the top pad and pneumatic cushion being broken away and shown in section to illustrate internal parts;

FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the same, with a portion of the cover pad shown in section;

FIG. 3 is a transverse sectional view of the same taken on the line 3-3 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view taken on the line 4--4 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a detail sectional view taken on the line 55 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view through one side of a landing pit cushion embodying a modified form of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a transverse sectional view through a landing pit cushion embodying another modified form of the invention;

FIG. 8 is a fragmentary transverse sectional view through a landing pit cushion embodying a still further modified form of the invention;

FIG. 9 is a plan view of a landing pit cushion embodying a further modified form of the invention and suitable for use as a high jumpers landing cushion; and

FIG. 10 is a plan view of a further modified form of the invention.

Referring now to the drawings in detail, I have shown in FIGS. 1-5 thereof, as a preferred form of the invention, a landing pit cushion comprising, in general, a tubular rim A providing a peripheral chamber adapted to be inflated to relatively high pressure such as to render the rim A relatively stiff, though sufficiently yieldable to avoid inflicting injury upon the athletes body; an inflatable main body portion B framed by the rim A and providing a cushioning chamber or chambers which is adapted to be inflated to a relatively lower pressure so as to be more highly yieldable than the rim A and to provide a principal cushioning action for absorbing the shock of the athletes fall; a cover pad C for covering and protecting the cushion; and a pair of blowers D and E for inflating the rim A and the cushioning 'body B respectively.

The rim A and cushioning body B can be integrally constructed in a single casing of tough, high tensile 3 strength, flexible, substantially air-impervious sheet material comprising a bottom panel 15, a top panel 16, a peripheral Wall 17, and a partition wall 18 disposed in inwardly-spaced, parallel relation to the peripheral wall 17 and cooperating therewith and with the bottom and top panels and 16 to define the rim A.

The material of the casing walls 15, 16, 17, and 18 can be a strong woven fabric such as nylon, coated with neoprene or vinyl or hypolon plastic material, so as to have a high tensile strength to resist rupture under impact of an athletes body, and so as to be relatively imperviou to leakage of air therethrough.

The vaulters landing pit preferably includes a rectangular main body portion 21 and a narrower bifurcated forward portion 22 having a central notch 23 providing an open space above the socket or cup in which the point of the vaulters pole is inserted and held as he vaults upwardly.

The cover panel 16 is tied to the bottom panel 15 in normally substantially parallel relation thereto by means of tie webs 26 which can be of cotton webbing or strap material, the ends of the respective webs26 being stitched or otherwise suitably secured to the bottom and top panels 15 and 16.

In the bottom panel 15 is an access opening 30 normally closed by a zipper fastener '31 and covered by a pair of fly strips 32 and 33 (FIG. 5) each having its outer margin secured, as by a line of stitching 34, to the bottom panel 15. A corresponding opening 35 extending horizontally in the partition wall 18, is normally closed by azipper fastener 36 and covered by a hanging fly 37 mounted on the outer side of partition 18, its upper margin secured thereto as at 38. The fly 37 functions to close the opening 35 against leakage from the high pressure chamber of rim A to the low pressure chamber of cushioning body B. The opening 30 is sufficiently large to enable a workman to enter the low pressure chamber of body B for repair of the internal structure of the cushion, and the opening 35 provides access from the low pressure chamber into the high pressure rim A. The opening 35 and zipper fastener 36 extend full length along the sides of the main body area 21 of the cushion and across the back past the blowers D, E so as to provide access to the blowers for servicing.

Blowers D and E are disposed within the rim A along the back side of the cushion, resting upon the bottom thereof and preferably covered by a block of sponge material 40 (FIG. 4) to protect the athlete from injury from the blowers in the event of a landing directly above them; The blower D discharges its output into the high pressure rim A as indicated by arrow 41 in FIG. 1. The blowers D and E each have an inlet communicating with external atmosphere through a port 42 in the peripheral wall 17 of the cushion, and are substantially sealed to the wall 17 so as to permit only an inflow through'the port 42. The walls of rim A are substantially impervious to the escape of air from the high pressure chamber, and no vent is provided for escape of air from rim A.

Blower E has its discharge outlet connected through a suitable elbow nozzle 43 with a port 44 in the partition wall 18 (FIG. 4) the port 44 being closed by a flap valve 45 in response to any pressure surge in the cushioning chamber of body B generated by an athletes landing thereon. This prevents loss of compression in the cushioning chamber resulting from downward distention of the cover panel 16 under the impact of the athletes body.

The valve 45 consists of a sheet of air-impervious flexible material secured along its upper margin as'at 47, to a suitable frame 48 framing the port 44. The marginal portion of partition wall 18 around port 44 may be clamped between the frame 48 and the discharge elbow 43.

The top panel 16 is provided with a plurality of air escape vents 50 around the periphery of cushioning body B and inwardly of the rim A, whereby the pressure in 4 I the cushioning chamber is maintained at a lower level than in the rim A.

The cover pad C covers the main body portion 21 and the narrow forward portion 22 of the cushion and is draped downwardly over the forward ends of the two legs of portion 22, as shown at 24. This protects the cushion against being pierced by the point of the vaulting pole or by the athletes shoe spikes. This pad we have found is .vital to the protection and landing characteristics of the pit. It protects the main body of the cushion from spike damage by track shoes. The pad extensions on the front and sides of the pit protect these areas when the athlete exits. As ultraviolet is the prime destroyer of fabric, the pad protects the base cushion from the weakening effects of the sun. The pad protects the vaulter from a whiplash action of his neck. This whiplash occurs when the pad is not present. The pad also provides for a more comfortable contact surface for the athlete. Without the foam pad there is a slapping action upon contact with the surface of the cushion.

FIG. 6 illustrates a modified construction facilitating the fabrication of the seams by which the several sections of sheet material are secured together to form the cushion. In this construction, a peripheral wall 117 and partition wall 118 are assembled in face to face contact before inflation, and their upper and lower margins are secured to the peripheral margins of the bottom and top panels and 116 by external seams 119. Blowers D1 and E1 are disposed externally of the cushion and have respective discharge nozzles 143, 243 extending through suitable inlet po1'ts 144 and 244 in the peripheral wall 117 and bottom panel 115 respectively. Discharge nozzle 243 can extend beneath the seam 119 and thence upwardly into the port 244 communicating with the low pressure chamber of cushioning body B1. The high pressure rim A1, defined by the adjacent peripheral wall 117 and partition wall 118, when inflated becomes distended to a meniscus cross section as shown in FIG. 6 to provide the relatively stiff rim A1 which resists any tendency of the falling athlete to be deflected outwardly over the rim. Blowers D1 and B1 are attached to the cushion by straps 59 each having respective ends secured to the periphery of the cushion as indicated, preferably adjacent the top and bottom seams 119, the straps being looped around the blowers to hold them against backing away from the cushion under the reactive force of the compressed air being pumped into the cushion. When the cushion is deflated, the straps 59 can be used as handles for transporting the cushion after it has been rolled or folded into a bundle.

Referring now to FIG. 7, there is shown therein another modified form of the invention wherein the cushioning body portion B3 of the apparatus is divided by a medial horizontal divider panel 60 into a high pressure bottom chamber 61 and low pressure top chamber 62. High pressure rim A3 in this instance may be fabricated by attaching a sheet of material 317 to the upper and lower margins of a pair of aligned partition strips 318 by external seams 319 which can be utilized to also secure the margins of the bottom and top panels 315 and 316 to the rim A3. The periphery of the separator sheet 60 can be secured between adjoining margins of the partition 318 by a peripheral seam 63. Blowers D3 and E3 can be located at opposite sides of the cushion within the high pressure of rim A3 as shown, or can be located at the back of the cushion in adjacent relation as shown in FIG. 1. FIG. 7 is intended to illustrate the blower D3 discharging into the high pressure rim A3 through its discharge outlet 64, and blower E3 is shown as discharging into the high pressure bottom chamber 61 through a port 44 and flap valve 45 the same as in FIG. 4. Air from the high pressure chamber 61 will bleed into the low pressure chamber 62 through bleed ports 65, and from the low pressure chamber 62 air is bled to atmosphere through bleed ports 350.

In the operation of the cusion of FIG. 7, the athletcs fall is initially cushioned by the more highly yieldable top panel 316, supported by the low pressure air cushion of chamber 62, and will bottom out against the medial partition wall 60 which is supported by the high pressure in chamber 61 and therefore presents more resistance to compression by the athletes body and consequently absorbs the remainder of the momentum of the fall. The high pressure rim A3 functions the same as in FIGS. 1-4.

As shown in FIG. 9, the cushion can be a plain rectangular cushion, especially where it is to be used for high jumpers landing pit. The cushion shown in FIG. 9 can be the same in construction and operation as that shown in FIGS. 1-4, with the following exceptions: A pair of blowers D arranged back to back in the high pressure chamber of rim A4, both discharging into that chamber, function to inflate rim A4 at high pressure. From the high pressure chamber, air may pass into the low pressure chamber of cushioning body B4 through a plurality of flaptype check valves 45 which can be similar to the valve 45 of FIG. 4, except that they are sufliciently restricted in throat area so as to maintain the pressure in the rim A4 at a sufliciently higher level than in the low pressure chamber of cushioning chamber B4 so as to provide the stiffness in the rim A4 required for deflecting the athletes body inwardly onto the cushioning body B4. Air escapes from the ports 50 around the periphery of cushioning body B4 the same as in FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 illustrates another modified form of the invention wherein the high pressure rim A5 is defined between a peripheral wall member 517 secured to the peripheries of bottom and top panels 515 and 516 by peripheral seams 519, and a pair of partition strips 518 extending diagonally inwardly from the seams 519 to the periphery of a medial web 70 of air porous sheet material such as woven nylon net, ties 526 being secured to the web 70 and to the top and bottom panels in aligned pairs so as to tie the top and bottom panels to one another to resist ballooning of the cushion. The partition webs 518 are provided with bleed -ports 544 through which air pumped into the rim A5 at high pressure by a blower D5 is permitted to flow into the low pressure chamber of cushioning body B5 at a restricted rate such as to maintain relatively low pressure in the cushioning body B5 as related to relatively high pressure in the rim A5. From the low pressure chamber the air is permitted to bleed to atmosphere through ports 550 of greater restriction than the ports 544 so as to maintain the proper pressure in the cushioning body. In this arrangement the blower D5 (either a single blower of adequate capacity or two blowers) discharges only into the rim A5 and the pressurization of the cushioning body B5 is accomplished by the bleed from the high chamber of rims A5 into the cushioning body B5.

I claim:

1. An athletes pneumatic landing pit cushion comprising: an inflated flexible tubular peripheral rim; an inflatable cushioning body framed by said rim; first blower means for continuously inflating said rim at relatively high pressure; and second blower means for continuously inflating said cushioning body at relatively low pressure; whereby to stiffen said rim for less yieldability than said cushioning body under the impact of an athletes landing, thereby deflecting the atheletes body inwardly onto said cushioning body rather than outwardly off the cushion. 2. A landing pit cushion as defined in claim 1, said first blower means having an inlet drawing air from external atmosphere and having an outlet communicating with said peripheral rim for discharging pressurized air thereinto. '3. A landing pit cushion as defined in claim 2, said second blower means having outlet means for discharging into said cushioning body, and a check valve controlling the flow from said outlet means into said cushioning body for inflating the latter, said check valve being operative to close in response to a pressure surge in said cushioning body generated by impact of an athletes landing so as to prevent collapse of said cushioning body under said impact.

4. An athletes landing pit cushion as defined in claim 1, comprising a casing of flexible, air-impervious sheet material defining the periphery of said rim and providing common top and bottom panels for said cushioning body and rim; a flexible partition spaced inwardly from said periphery, bridging vertically between said top and bottom panels, and extending around the periphery of said cushion, and a check valve in said partition for controlling the flow of air from said rim into said cushioning body, said check valve being operative to close in response to a pressure surge in said cushioning body generated by impact of an athletes landing so as to prevent collapse of said cushioning body under said impact.

5. An athletes landing pit cushion as defined in claim 1, comprising a casing of flexible, air-impervious sheet material defining the periphery of said rim and providing common top and bottom panels for said cushion body and rim; a flexible partition spaced inwardly from said periphery, bridging vertically between said top and bottom panels, and extending around the periphery of said cushion; and a plurality of collapsible ties extending vertically between and anchored to said top and bottom panels and preventing ballooning of said cushioning body, said first blower delivering its full discharge into said rim and said second blower delivering its full discharge into said cushioning body.

6. An athletes landing pit cushion as defined in claim 1, wherein said cushioning body is provided with vents for escape of gas from said cushioning chamber to atmosphere; and wherein said tubular rim is provided with restricted vents for flow of gas from said rim into said cushioning body; said last mentioned vents providing the sole paths for escape of gas from said rim.

7. An athletes landing pit as defined in claim 1, wherein the respective blowers are disposed within said tubular rim; and including a block of cushioning sponge material overlying said blowers in said rim.

8. An athletes pneumatic landing pit cushion as defined in claim 1, wherein said tubular rim is composed of op posed strips of flexible sheet material which are in faceto-face adjacency when said rim is deflated, and including top and bottom panels of flexible sheet material, said opposed strips having upper and lower margins secured to one another and to the peripheries of said top and bottom panels.

9. An athletes pneumatic landing pit cushion as defined in claim 1, wherein said tubular rim is composed of a peripheral Wall and a pair of partition walls secured to and converging inwardly from the upper and lower margins of said peripheral wall; and including top and bottom panels of flexible sheet material; and a medial reinforcing sheet of air-pervious material disposed medially between said panels and marginally secured to the inner margins of said partition walls, said tubular rim being of generally triangular cross-section, at least one of said partition walls having restricted ports for bleed of air from said tubular rim into said cushioning body.

10. A landing pit cushion as defined in claim 1, including top and bottom panels of flexible sheet material marginally secured to said tubular rim to define said cushioning body, and a partition wall secured to and extending generally vertically between said top and bottom panels and constituting an inner wall of said rim; and further including a medial separator sheet of air impervious sheet material having restricted bleed ports therein, said separator sheet having its periphery secured to said partition wall and defining within said cushioning body a high pressure bottom chamber and a low pressure chamber thereabove, said first blower delivering pressurized air into said rim and said second blower delivering pressurized air into said high pressure bottom chamber and said low pressure upp r chamber being inflated by air bleeding from said high pressure bottom chamber through said bleed ports.

11. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, including a partition wall separating the chambers defined within said rim and body respectively; including a panel bottom of said cushioning body; including a workmans access opening in said bottom panel and an opening extending longitudinally in said partition wall, for access to said body chamber and to said rim from within said body, and respective zipper closures for said openings.

12. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, including a partition Wall separating the chambers of said rim and of said body respectively; including a bottom wall of said cushioning body; including a workmans access opening in said bottom wall and an opening extending longitudinally in said partition wall, for access to said rim from within said cushioning body, and respective zipper closures for said openings; and respective air-sealing flaps within said body and said rim and covering the closures of said bot-. tom and partition openings respectively.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS BOBBY R. GAY, Primary Examiner.

GASMIR A. NUNBERG, Examiner.

A. CALVERT, Assistant Examiner.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3840922 *Nov 3, 1972Oct 15, 1974Thermo Flex IncLanding cushion for falling objects
US3965507 *Feb 3, 1975Jun 29, 1976The Langdon CorporationAthlete's landing pit cushion
US4443009 *Oct 5, 1981Apr 17, 1984Ampro CorporationPole vaulter's landing cushion
US4875548 *Nov 24, 1987Oct 24, 1989Peter LorsbachJump rescue apparatus
US5150767 *Feb 19, 1991Sep 29, 1992Air Cruisers, Inc.Portable self-contained impact system
US5529377 *Jun 25, 1993Jun 25, 1996Mccord Winn TextonAir cell module for automotive seat
US7357728Sep 28, 2005Apr 15, 2008Osler-Weppenaar Frederick EdwaHuman free-fall slide
EP0204765A1 *Nov 21, 1985Dec 17, 1986Kcj CorpAir flotation mattress.
EP0317904A1 *Nov 18, 1988May 31, 1989Peter LorsbachJump safety apparatus
EP0910975A2 *Oct 9, 1998Apr 28, 1999Boyd Flotation, Inc.Air bed system
WO2013120039A1 *Feb 9, 2013Aug 15, 2013Palumbo Richard AMethod and device for agitating a grouping of cushioning articles
Classifications
U.S. Classification5/420, 482/15, 182/139, 482/23, 5/713
International ClassificationA47C27/08, A63B6/02, A47B27/08
Cooperative ClassificationA47B27/08, A63B2225/62, A63B6/02
European ClassificationA63B6/02, A47B27/08