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Flying Underwater, A Blast From The Past

Discussion in 'Freediving Equipment' started by ricki, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. ricki

    ricki Supporter Supporter

    The Aqueon, want to "fly" underwater up to 6 mph under your own power? That is pushing it but the device has some interesting qualities.

    More at:

    [ame=http://fksa.org/forumdisplay.php?f=92]CONTINUED HERE with video clips and large images[/ame]

    p.s. - the article was shot with the new Olympus Stylus 770 sw, both still and video. Checkout what this little camera can do!
  2. OceanMan

    OceanMan Well-Known Member

    6 mph is slower than classical monofin.

    6 mph = 2.68 m/s

    Monofin : up to 3.3 m/s
  3. ricki

    ricki Supporter Supporter

    I had heard figures that suggested monofins might be faster. Then again, the 6 mph figure was established by a man in his early 50's, forty years ago. Wonder what an athlete might accomplish today? I threw the 6 mph figure in there as much for comparison to bi-fins as anything else. For normal free diving going particularly fast under your own power isn't that desirable a thing anyway.

    Also, which is easier, running 6 mph or riding a bicycle that fast? It would be interesting to compare the relative energy expenditure of an Aqueon vs. a monofin. Could be similar or perhaps not given the moment arm and other aspects of the device. It is an old device that I thought deserved another look.

    Has anyone on here spent sufficient time on both to be able to offer a comparison?
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2007
  4. trux

    trux ~~~~~

    Yes, there are some users here on DB who used Aqueon - just enter it into the search box above and you'll get many threads about it. For example Bill used it, so maybe he peeks in here too. Or send him a PM to ask about it.
  5. Bill

    Bill Baron of Breathold Supporter

    I'm your boy. My Aqueon was stolen about thirty years ago and I've looked for another (off and on) for a few years. Thanks for the lead. Waiting for a reply.
    There are at least three design 'errors' in all the monofins that I've seen and the Aqueon fixes two of them. The on-the-fly adjustable blade stiffness works great too. Since I cannot get a monofin to work better than my C4s in any mode, a comparison sounds exciting. Even thought about stealing the design fixes and applying them to mono and/or bi fins.
    I have a visual memory etched forever in RAM of pointing down in deep, clear water and hitting 20 meters so fast that it scared me. Maybe I'll get to do it again, sinuses willing.
  6. ricki

    ricki Supporter Supporter

    Hello Bill,

    I wanted to give monofins a try recently before buying one but no joy yet. So that experience is still off in the future for me. They certainly do seem to be efficient but I wonder if the level of effort might be greater then that required for an equivalent distance with an Aqueon. Your comments on the comparative efficiency are intriguing. I see you are in Kona, that is a distance from SE Florida to be sure. If you get one, do me a favor and take it down to Southpoint. A video of you cruising along the cliffs and grottos in all that blue water would be incredible (more at: [ame=http://fksa.org/showthread.php?t=2046]Southernmost point in the USA (Not Key West), An Amazing Place - FKA Kiteboarding Forums[/ame] ). Hopefully you can get a new one from Cal. I used it mainly for horizontal dives as opposed to vertical when I was a kid. Heading over to Bimini this weekend, maybe I'll take it along and see how it does for vertical work.

    I think I came by my first Aqueon a bit after you in 1974. The model I just bought works better than that one given some minor improvements. I was thinking of a few small modifications to improve performance further. Cal told me about a subsequent change that he developed that could offer some interesting properties particularly for deep descent. It would allow vertical diving with a head up attitude. The mod. that allows this is incredibly simple. I will give it a try, take some video and put it up for consideration.

    Finally, I copied some info from the Innerspace website into the bottom of the post at: [ame=http://fksa.org/showthread.php?p=21357]Amazing Underwater Flight! - FKA Kiteboarding Forums[/ame]

    Agreed the data is for SCUBA divers but it suggests the Aqueon required 40 % LESS air consumption than fins, (probably rocket or jet fins maybe duck feet). You could do better with long fins and perhaps better still with a monofin but 40% better? An interesting question. All this suggests a fresh look at the Aqueon would be a good idea.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2007
  7. jome

    jome Well-Known Member

    That is the coolest thing I've seen for a while. My only exposure to the Aqueon has so far been smudgy BW photos, only hinting at how the thing actually moves and works.

    Thank you for the pictures and videos!

    Also, 3 m/s for a monofin is not exactly "cruise speed". We're talking 50m sprint at the world record level, with gifted athletes who have trained for years and years for that single event.

    2.5 m/s is already a pretty respectable monofin sprint and I doubt most freedivers will make even that (50m in 20 sec).

    A reasonable "travel speed" for a monofin would be well under 2 m/s and for diving most go around 1 - 1.5 m/s.

    Just to keep things in perspective...
  8. Bill

    Bill Baron of Breathold Supporter

    "Cal told me about a subsequent change that he developed that could offer some interesting properties particularly for deep descent. It would allow vertical diving with a head up attitude."

    Holy cow! I haven't had my hands on one for thirty years and I had the mod figured out before I finished the sentence, I think. Don't know about steering though. I only spent 15-20 minutes talking to that brilliant man but, like the other few geniuses I met, I wish I had recorded their words. I also made an 'artist's concept' sketch of a head shield about 20 years ago. The basic idea came from a bicycle shield but it looks a lot like his.

    I never thought about flying in water until I saw your pictures. Just about 8 years ago, I landed at Honolulu, parked at the gate and never touched the contols of an airplane again. That glide from 110-200 feet last Sunday felt just as good but I have to admit that the visibility from the 747 was a lot better and at Rio or the old Hong Kong airport, a lot more exciting too.
  9. wet

    wet Freediver82 - water borne

    How about an aqueon with clear components (where possible and applicable), say transparent-invisible acrylic/polycarbonate wings?

    Wouldn't it give the effect of dolphin-like swimming, when going through the water at high speed, might make a great video.

    I dunno if the strength, weight, flexibility could be made practical, but I like the concept lots.

    Curious, wonder if the wings could be made swept-back or variable, for speed changes and less drag... When I first saw the aqueon, I felt that the wings were sticking out too far on the sides, and this would mean more work required at higher speeds.

    Very interesting !
    DeepThought likes this.
  10. cdavis

    cdavis Supporter Supporter

    That looks fabulous; the video is down right seductive! Thanks Ricki.

    Any possibility of someone making an Aqueon as a one-off project. It looks like a fairly simple piece of gear. I wonder what a one-off would cost?

  11. ricki

    ricki Supporter Supporter

    Most welcome and you are right about the images out there Simo. I did quite a bit of digging online and came up with very few images of the Aqueon. About the only semi-clear one shows up in the article from Popular Science. Capabilities offered by the Internet and even a fairly low cost, small camera like the 770 sw used in the write up sure have changed things.

    Thank you for the speed perspective. In time hopefully more comparative info will be logged and put up to more clearly show strengths and weaknesses. I think there is quite a bit of development that could still be done to optimize Aqueon performance in the future though.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2007
  12. ricki

    ricki Supporter Supporter

    Bill you could be on to it. It really is a very simple addition. I hope to try it this weekend in clear water and will see how it goes. In someways moving downward in a head up attitude seems like an advantage, in other ways perhaps not. Hope to know more about that soon. Body attitude is important. The fastest, more efficient way I discovered to use the Aqueon as a teenager was inverted when swimming horizontally. Something about muscle function but aside from normal issues with sinuses while inverted you could really move out that way. Hope something similar kicks in using the mod.

    I haven't met Cal in person, you were fortunate to do so. He got a kick out of the article. I will direct him to your comments and thanks.

    Something put me in mind to fly underwater, that aside from using a Rebikoff Remora that has airplane-like controls, in my teens and early 20's for reef surveys. That is aerobatic flying. There is something addictive about throwing maneuvers through clear air at high speed. That aside from nausea from too many high G spins too fast after a time. Anyway, I found a reduced but similar sensation from free diving with an electric DPV. Intertia sports, gotta love 'em.

    More antique technology, but fun! The Remora, very similar to the self contained Pegasus shown below with the photogrammetric camera on this nose. The Remora instead of having an expensive payload of silver-zinc batteries towed a whaler and generator by a power umbilical. It was heavy in air but fast in the water. It was a great stable platform for still, video and photogrammetric bottom surveys. It was fun to power dive to the bottom free diving and then pull out with the joy stick before plowing in. We used re-engineered versions in the '70's and early '80's. Wasn't born when Dimitri first brought the Pegasus into being.

    From: Home
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2007
    trux likes this.
  13. ricki

    ricki Supporter Supporter

    I think your material and configuration ideas are worth exploring. There is quite a bit of T & E that could be done with different foil, kneel materials, bearings, different approaches to fastening and beyond. The design was evolved for fairly inexpensive materials and fabrication techniques decades ago. A lot has changed in that area to be sure. Cal was talking with admiration about the form and efficiency of a tuna tail fin. It approximates the swept back shape you were describing. Lots of development that could be done to optimize things. The imaging variants are real intriguing, there is lots of interesting footage that could be captured on one of these in varied settings and light. I bet if Bill took one of these to Southpoint and had someone video/shoot the action the results would be remarkable.
  14. ricki

    ricki Supporter Supporter

    You are welcome Connor. Hope to grab some more intriguing content this weekend in clearer water with some interesting back drops.

    The Aqueon is out of production currently. The engineering and development capabilities of an outfit like Innerspace are formidable. If they perceive enough interest they might well crank things up again. Initially it might be a similar vehicle to the version I just picked up, which works well by the way. In time though with advanced composites, foam core foils, low friction bearings, quite a lot might be accomplished. Some guys are very handy in fabricating things, they might put something together. Still as simple as the current Aqueon is, there are quite a few subtle factors developed from past T & E that might be difficult to capture independently. In time, there could be a few variants out there if folks work at this.
  15. wet

    wet Freediver82 - water borne

    Are you saying that while in a back-floating position underwater you swam with the aqueon? I assume you used nose plugs? Did you have your head craned back in order to see ahead, or did you just use peripheral vision? Were you wearing goggles or full face mask?

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2007
  16. ricki

    ricki Supporter Supporter

    I was wearing regular free diving gear including fins, in the Aqueon. I would be on my back dolphin kicking along looking slightly forward. For best speed I should have been looking at the surface. I just picked up my first set of nose plugs recently, need to give them a go.

    I have been looming near the bottom when I go all out inverted recently with the Aqueon. Don't want to hammer into a hard bottom at speed, ouch! Need more practice to get back into it.

    I recall Martin Stepanek saying something about maximizing speed with monofins in an inverted position as well. What have others experienced like this? He found cetaceans in particular could be brought in closer at times doing this.
  17. trux

    trux ~~~~~

    When you spoke about swimming in inverted position with the Aqueon, I first thought that you swam feet first, which would be pretty cool, interesting, and possibly it could have some advantages. And unlike with a monofin, I think it could be indeed possible with such (or similar) device.

    It is true that swimming on the surface with fins is more efficient on your back, and I often do it when needing to cross bigger distance quickly. However, once you are under the surface, there is no difference - you can swim in any direction and in any position, and there won't be any significant difference. It could bring you some advantage only if the Aqueon was quite positively or negatively buoyant, allowing so some asymmetric gravitation effect. Even that is quite questionable though. And as long as it is approximately neutrally buoyant, the position cannot have practically any influence on the efficiency or speed. And while at a monofin, theoretically there could be a very tiny difference when swimming underwater close to the surface (moving the water against or above the surface, hence having asymmetric gravitation effect), at Aqueon due to the two hydrofoils moving in opposite directions (when the front moves down, the back goes up, and vice versa, as far as I see), any such difference would be eliminated. If you feel that you move faster when on your back, on my mind, it is just a psychological effect - either you just think you move faster when watching the surface, or maybe you even move faster, but not because of physical conditions, but rather because of the psychological ones (you think you should move faster, hence you do so - that's a quite common effect in human psychology).
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2007
  18. Bill

    Bill Baron of Breathold Supporter

    'two hydrofoils moving in opposite directions '

    Not sure if it is important or even true but it feels very different. The rear foil always points at the centre of the front foil. The front foil is free to swivel restricted of course by the bungee which can be adjusted for 'fin stiffness'. If my long term memory can be trusted, it feels like your feet are anchored in place and your body hardly bends. This can't be because when the front foil starts up the rear must go the same direction but the delay forces the undulation with no input from the swimmer. It becomes obvious when you try to wear fins too. The efficiency seems to go way down.
  19. cdavis

    cdavis Supporter Supporter


    Check your pms

  20. ricki

    ricki Supporter Supporter

    This is possible, although I have yet to do it. Perhaps this weekend if things work out in deep water. It is that simple mod Bill and I were discussing.

    Thank you for your thoughts on this. The added speed could have been only a perception but a strong one all the same. Your point about the proximity of the surface might add to the impression. The Aqueon is slightly positive say around a couple of pounds. The aft foil acts like a stabilizer on an airplane and is asymmetrical in section unlike the two forward foils which are symmetrical. My impression from many years back was that the advantage was more a function of physiology as opposed to the mechanics of the Aqueon. I need to reacquire some control while using it inverted for some comparative speed trials, inverted vs. not. I'll pass along what I find out, deceptive appearance of fast moving surface vs. actual faster movement.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2007