Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
I am a second year student doing a forensic science degree and am in the process of thinking of a final year dissertation project starting in September. I am also an instructor at 642 Volunteer Gliding School at Linton on Ouse and so my dissertation seems like a good excuse to spend a year researching something to do with aviation! I’ve come up with the idea of researching the physiological effects on the human body caused by ejection. As this is a little hard to research practically, I was hoping that I could get a hand full of people who’ve had to eject to fill in a questionnaire. This would enable me to do a bit of a case study, and along with all the published literature I should hopefully end up with a project. If you can help I’d really appreciate you getting in contact with me, and if not, any ideas for a different topic would also be greatly received. My email address is mark_l_Collins@yahoo.co.uk
Ginge, there was a time when aircrew were subjected to "Practice Ejections" on a rig that could be moved around different RAF (and maybe FAA) Stations. So the community from which you could get data may be much larger than you think.
However, I feel that, when you search the literature, you will find that there has been a lot written already.
By the way, are you interested in changes during ejection or as a result of ejection? If its during, you don't get very long to make notes...
My experience is about the same as Shytorque's. The training rig was pretty tame; they used a reduced charge. But it was OK for getting drills and posture sorted.
The near ejection was in a Meatbox at night between Juba and Khartoum in 1955. The ITF was giving me a hard time, I had lost both VHFs, the oxygen tank was leaking and I was running out of fuel. Also the pressurisation/cockpit heating had packed up, and I was shivering beyong belief. I decided (if that describes what passed for a mental process) to carry on to DR posn overhead Khartoum and then do max rate descent. Broke cloud at about 30 grand and there, miraculously, was the sheen of both branches of the Nile and the dim lights of the town. The prospect of banging out evoked visions of bloody great crocs with their beaks open!
Physiological effects? A marked loosening of the bowels and a desire to urinate; rythmic contractions of the anal sphincter (the "sixpence/half-crown" phenomenon).
I shouldn't have been there. GASOs prohibited night transit flights by single-seat jets and required all such flights to done in pairs, because of the lack of navaids and the unreliability of the VHFs. But I had been delayed and had to be back at Abu Sueir the next day on pain of death. And I was an A2 with 1,000 hrs on type and was immortal. I was too ashamed to write it up for Wg Cdr Spry.
Location: uk mostly, desert lots, searching for lost posts
The training rig wasn't THAT tame. Back in the dim distant past of the late 50s/early 60s before Health & Safety(when the world was black & white, and the only rolls you could get were cheese OR ham), Joe Public was allowed to "have a go" on the rig at Station Open Days and similar.
It was strongly rumoured at the time that it was very popular with Joanna Public also, particularly when the decorators were unaccountably (!) late that month. Now there's a good thread for the dissertation ..............................
Only had my hand on it ( err, the handle) once in the back of a two seat F5 (that's two handles) with a lunatic in the front who was rushing about at 200' under 8/8ths trying to get lined up with no diversion fuel and here's me with 5,000 hrs thinking how the bloody hell did I get myself into this situation.
He got it down. But if he hadn't, it would have been his second write-off. I didn't intend to wait around.
Ginge, you interested in the physiological effects of near ejections that didn't take place?
There are of course one or two sad cases of premature ejection, or you might consider the Heathrow Vulcan IIRC, with partial crew ejection.
The effects of course are increasingly shown to be lessened with the modern seats. A lot of the early day injuries were associated with edge of envelope departures associated with non axial rocket forces applied obliquely through the spine. [ignore problems of flailing limbs]
later marks of seat are a tad more agressive in positioning the departing crew to ensure that non axial foce damage is minimised, while ensuring that ideal departure is just that - disc compression, healing over 7-10 days and thats about it.
Write to the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine [now at Boscombe Down] - if they can release their material, they have a stack. Indeed I know they are a shadow of their former selves, and hope they still retain 'Institute' status. I seem to rercall that every Martin Baker letdown ever has been examined and the data collated by the IAM.
The main purpose of the over the head handle was to cause the shoulders to rise thereby straigtening the spine. trouble is, when you only have 1 second to validate your decision and be out, wasting half of that farting around over your head become an unacceptable ideal!
I'm one of those people who rode around in bang-seats for years and never had to use one. But after riding around helmeted in everything from Vampires through Macchis, JP's, Hawks, Mirage, Tucano's, Strikeys, choppers, PC-9's and a few other g-pulling types I can't recall at the moment, I eventually inherited a very bad C5/C6 cervical vertebrae problem. There were a lot of my fellow pilots who had the same thing. Some got grounded or took themselves permanently off flight status.It manifests itself in a quite acute (but intermittent) back-of-the-neck ache that travels in pulses all the way down to the right fingertips.
Being dumber than most, I used to try and make it go away with Panadol overdoses until I eventually gave up in agony and went to see a quack who prescribed the anti-inflammatories (Brufen and Voltaren). They worked like magic and the problem settled down to a recurrence every few months. That would be hellish until the scar tissue again re-formed on the spinal cord around the C6/C6 bony spur (that causes the problem - and grows solely due to bad seated posture/heavy helmet). Then the problem always subsided but each time with a greater residual loss of sensation in the right forefinger and thumb. The quacks told me off the record that it was a well known problem for those who'd done a lot of time in seats with top-handles (vice just crutch handles). In a number of a/c I used to find that sitting in the back with the seat up (and heavy helmet hard against the canopy) always forced the head forward and if you do enough time under g in that posture you get this C5/C6 cervical spine problem.
The reason I mention it is that IMHO it is for sure a Service-related injury (and they privately admit as much) - but I found that each of three Air Forces' doctors all said that it was classified as a CJD (chronic joint disorder/disease?) - although one called it a "degenerative" JD (i.e. allegedly age-related). So if you realise one day that you've got it, you'll know what caused it, how to treat it and that you will surely be shafted as far as any service-related disability compensation goes. An RAF retired Dr orthopod at RAF Halton told me not to bother fighting it - their airships had decided NOT to pay out on it or recognise it for what it was back in the late 60's, once it started assuming epidemic proportions.
I don't know if the physiological effects of ejecting from a Hawk while it's undergoing checks in a hangar fall into your dissertation remit, but I wouldn't advise it. Some poor chap did that in Malaysia not so long ago.
Whatever the problems with bang-seats, they beat the hell out of not having them! They arrived in the Meteor F8 and subsequent marks. Nick Carter's book "Meteor Eject!" lists in an Appendix all of the 400-odd Meteor fatal accidents (out of a total of 800-odd Meteor flying accidents) and you can surmise how many of these pilots (and 10 navs) wold have llived if they had had bang-seats. The carnage was staggering by current peace-time standards. I doubt whether Joe Public would have stood for it in this era!
If you're in UK, it's not up to their Lordships or Airships whether or not you get a "War Pension" from the Benefits Agency.
If you really do have an employment related disability, and it needn't incapacitate you, then there is a procedure you can follow.
You will have to provide a Service history and it will help if you have been hospitalised or undergone courses of treatment at some time.
I had no trouble convincing them that years of pulling "G" in bang seats followed by years of backbone grinding in RW together with several practice ejections amounted to 20% disability and the appropriate remuneration.
A 'phone call to the local BA office is all you need to start the ball rolling.
Unc - happen to have some of this bumpf in front of me. Call the War Pensions Agency (even tho' it's nothing to do with wars) in Blackpool on 0800 169 22 77 (or if outside the UK +44 1253 866043) and get them to send you a claim form.
Then join the Royal British Legion to help you argue the case if the WPA turn you down or leave you unsatisfied.