View Full Version : Ejection Stories

7th Jun 2002, 11:46
Greetings one and all!

Can anyone supply ejection stories / anecdotes / rumours / photos about using ejection seats. I am compiling a list of such things for my (brilliant!!!) web site:
and would love to expand on this subject.
Over to you......

7th Jun 2002, 13:52
Seem to recall that the backseater in a Phantom banged out at the Bournemouth Airshow a few years ago after the aircraft left the runway during roll out. Pilot stayed aboard and halted the wee beastie on the grass...

I have also seen a picture of an RAF Tornado "cabriolet" landing somewhere after the rear seater left early (must have been opening time?)

Dunno anything more about either of theses stories, but they might be of use?

I have control
7th Jun 2002, 14:18
About 5 years ago I spent an enjoyable evening in the company of Doddy Hay. He had been a live tester of ejection seats for Martin Baker and was full of interesting stories. He would be a great person to track down. At that time he was living in Memorial Court, Methil, Fife.

7th Jun 2002, 17:58
I once heard that a member of the Red Arrows' 'circus' banged out on a transit flight when he became disoriented and convinced that the pilot had lost control

7th Jun 2002, 19:11
Here goes, pardon the stream of consciousness.

RCAF (Back when we had an air force) Stn. Bagotville, late 1963. CF 100 on a test flight after maintenance, descending through 12000, nav writing radar report. Pilot pulls negative G as part of the test procedure. Nav regains orientation hanging in parachute without boots and with a rather crushed pencil in hand, lands on the shore of Lac st. Jean. A/C returns to Bagtown with rear seat gun extended, no canopy and drogue wrapped around horizontal stabilizer, gentlest landing of this type ever seen as pilot's seat was not locked down and had only to rise a few inches to fire the gun. No one knows how the nav's 'chute deployed as the drogue returned with the aircraft. Nav found by air search and picked up by helicopter borrowed from Hydro Quebec. He entered the radar section during the compulsory tour of congratulation and the radar sergeant asked him for the radar report. "Sir! How do you expect us to keep the set on the top line if you don't fill out the paperwork?"

The SE techs received a case of beer because the parachute worked and 3 weeks jankers because it shouldn't have had to.

7th Jun 2002, 19:59
Flash2001 reminded me of another one: This story came from Bernard Chabbert in Pilot a few years ago.

The Patrouille de France were doing a show in Alpha Jets at a small airfield near Geneva: the singletons are doing their bit, in this case an opposition pass down the runway, immediate 360 deg turn with another pass on the opposite side of the turn, and a third over the runway again. A horizontal loop if you follow me. There was a small hill roughly in the centre of the "loop" and the chaps got unsighted. Moments later, one of pilots was dangling under his chute, a heartbeat from touchdown in a nice field (alfalfa?), his trusty steed burning nearby. The other aircraft landed safely at Geneva with a damaged wing and tailplane. The ejectee suffered some injuries, broken ankle or something liike that from landing awkwardly.

They figured the wingtip of the other aircraft had gone straight through the canopy of the one that crashed and triggered the ejection sequence! How close is close?

Watching "Have I Got News For You" reminds me that this happened at Annemasse!

Doctor Cruces
8th Jun 2002, 07:04
Doddy Hay wrote a book, "The Man In The Hot Seat" and is well worth a read.

Doc C.

10th Jun 2002, 22:07
The Red Arrows were somewhat embarrassed a few years ago (Gnats) when a radio transmission went along the lines of: "Red * you are on fire!". There were THREE bangs.......:rolleyes:

11th Jun 2002, 05:30
My Nav (flying with someone else at the time) bailed out of a CF-100 but not by choice. They were cruising along doing intercepts when the drogue gun fired and put a hole in the canopy. During the ensuing rapid descent the seat went off and out he went. The canopy took some of the engine cowling with it and the pilot decided that the nav knew something he did'nt, that was dire, and he bailed out.
During the investigation the officer in charge decided that the nav had bailed out deliberately and it was only when they found the seat with both handles still in place that they believed him.

Chimbu chuckles
11th Jun 2002, 07:04
A friend of mine suffered a problem in a Mirage 111 (RAAF Butterworth) many years ago and left via the seat...from memory his engine failed.

After numerous one handed tugs on the central handle (between his legs) with no result...and down to VERY low altitude he grabbed with both hands and was gone in an instant...one swing under canopy and landed in a rice paddy or similar.

He relates that it was this incident that gave the answers to some fatalities that had been ,hitherto, unknown.

Seems that pulling asymetrically would not close whatever microswitches controlled the start of the sequence...he still suffers bad back pain...either from the force of the ejection or the awkward landing.

My father tells the story of when he was in RAF around 1950. While flying Meteors many people were ejecting, losing their legs and dieing. Finally it was discovered that tall chaps had a hip to knee measurement that would not allow their knees to pass behind the canopy bow.

Solution? All talls chaps, including Dad, transfered to Vampires!...No bang seat therefore no problem:(

Some months later he had reason to fling his Vampire into the channel one evening while transiting back from Europe...ejected canopy, rolled inverted and fell out...worked in Spits he figured!


24th Jun 2002, 10:51
Has anyone ever seen a live ejection?
Care to share?

24th Jun 2002, 12:23

I was witness to, and also filmed, the collision between the 2 Mig 29s at Fairford and I also filmed the guys banging-out of the Sukhoi that scraped its tail at Paris Airshow.

Both fairly well documented but the interesting thing about the Paris crash was that the next day, the guy who was manning the Russian ejector seat stand was being treated as a hero and he spent the rest of the week beaming from ear to ear.

What is startling about an ejection is the speed at which it all happens, from the realisation that something has gone wrong to the man being under the chute is just so quick.

24th Jun 2002, 13:03
I was sitting on a stranded train at Church Fenton back in either 82 or 83 watching a JP doing circuits.

After a few passes during which the a/c went behind trees then reappeared there was asudden lack of JP in the air.

A few seconds after this I was aware of a parachute and a messy smudge of smoke rising from the area of Church Fenton.

I was told later that the pilot had got away pretty intact from a low level exit. I don't know if anyone else is aware of this one.

25th Jun 2002, 02:16
I witnessed two ejections from the same aircraft a Javelin of 64Sqn. at Tengah in 1966. The aircraft was downwind and turning onto finals when, apparently, the throttle locks engaged or whatever; he had no power, and somewhere around the Officers Mess end of the runway both crew decided to leave! The aircraft landed surprisingly intact.

It is unusual, no matter how many aircraft you have watched in the circuit, to see the canopy fly off then a seat and chute appear, followed by a delayed bang. Your initial reactions is one of surprise! Both crew were unhurt, though I believe the pilot had had a previous ejection.

I also witness the two pilots eject from a Victor at Cottesmore when all four engines wound down on approach at about 1500 feet. The last of the three back-seaters had just cleared the aircraft which was rapidly becomin a brick. I gather it was the first V-bomber crash from which all five crew survived. 15 Sqn?1961-62?

I also knew an armourer who triggered a drogue on a Venom of 208 Sqn, and was very very lucky indeed to sustain nothing more than minor injuries to an arm.

6th Jul 2002, 18:12
To enlarge this thread...does anyone have an ejection club tie they would like to sell?

22nd Jul 2002, 20:59
I watched helpless as a Vulcan crashed over Malta in the mid-70's. The pilots got out as the right wing detached - apparently neither of then really remembered pulling the handles. The rear crew all perished, as did one person on the ground.

I do recall that the seats travelled at hell of a speed horizontally, and it seemed to take forever for the sequence to actually deploy the chutes.

23rd Jul 2002, 08:01
Just to set the record straight. The Phantom incident at Bournemouth happened when two F4's were taking off together. One veered off the r/way and the navigator ejected. The pilot continued the take off successfully and eventually landed at Lyneham. Having been to the display the previous day I was at home and the aircraft flew over my house with gear down and I thought that he must have problems.

Unfortunately, the navigator was badly injured.

This was in the good old days when Bournemouth used to alternate with the IATA show at Greenham.

Lu Zuckerman
23rd Jul 2002, 20:18
I worked with an Ex Air Force Captain who flew F-80s during the Korean War. He was flying fairly close to the ground when he took several hits. His aircraft started to roll violently going through 360-degrees in a short period of time. He could not eject being so close to the ground in fear of being driven into the ground by the seat mortar round. He popped the canopy and released his belts hoping that the CENTRIFUGAL FORCE would throw him clear of the tail. It didn’t. On the way down he tried pulling the D ring and his mind told him that he was in fact doing that. He looked down and saw that his hand was on the D ring but his arm was disconnected above the elbow and that part of his arm was moving but nothing else. He popped the D ring with his other hand and on the way down he saw blood running from his pant leg. He had also suffered a separation of his leg when he hit the vertical fin. Seeing his bleeding leg and realizing the damage to his arm he uttered these fateful words “Ure you really *****d up this time". He was recovered by friendlies and later married his Nurse. He is living in Southern California and his first name is Jim.


26th Jul 2002, 00:49
I did not see the ejection, but I was in a piston Provost when an excited jumble of unidentified radio voice announced that someone had just seen a Vampire crash.

I looked up and around and there at nine o'clock high was a figure descending by parachute. Three of us followed him down in very wide circles and gave bearings for his landing. He drifted for miles and miles before touchdown.

26th Jul 2002, 07:34
Somewhere back in the 60´s an F 104 Starfighter Pilot ejected during Flighttests in Manching (South Germany) while inverted.
He impacted much earlier as his plane, but not at much different speed :(

Oscar Duece
26th Jul 2002, 07:51
But I thought the starfighter fires you out underneath, because a conventional exit would kill you on the T tail. ??

Shaggy Sheep Driver
26th Jul 2002, 11:04
I remember hearing about that Vulcan at Malta. Hadn't it just flown in from the Uk, and did a *very* heavy landing at Malta, then went-around. Air traffic transmitted that he'd just left most of his undercarriage on the runway, and somewhere on the downwind leg the badly damaged wing gave up and folded?

It must have been terrible to be a 'guy in the back' in a Vulcan.


26th Jul 2002, 13:37
I recall the Malta Vulcan too - there was a pic of it in Air Pictorial - must have been around 1976 - just as it was about to touch down on the fatal landing. The caption said the gear sheared off (presumably one of the main legs) and it "exploded" whilst going round the circuit.

I seem to recall hearing about the F-104 firing pilots out of the bottom as well - not much use at low level unless you had time to roll inverted. Can't quite see why you'd hit the tail in normal ejection... you don't in anything else. Can anyone explain?

Harrier - wasn't a USAF evaluation pilot killed after ejecting from a Kestrel at Dunsfold after it rolled through the vertical while hovering?

And Bill Bedford's engine failure in the hover at the Paris Air Show in a Kestrel or Harrier - straight down from around 50 feet! Bet he wished he HAD ejected as I think he broke both ankles or something!

26th Jul 2002, 18:43
The German Guy in Mannchin ejected whilst 70*nose up and 130* rolled and at lowish speed and survived.
The eary 104 did bang out downwards but dont forget they were optimised for high alt intercept mode and it would not make a difference. The mfr did however switch to normal ejection mode (ie up) very soon afterwards.
It was only when european air forces started to use the 104 that Martin Baker seats were fitted ad reversed the trend of killing pilots on ejection.
They were known as widow makers in USAF service. I think the original seat only had a 12% success rate.

26th Jul 2002, 18:45
The USAF exchange pilot ejected when it was about 10'off the ground in a 110* starboard roll and pitched nose down. This was caught very dramatically on film. He was way outside the seat envelope.

26th Jul 2002, 22:43
Glad to hear that they changed the config in the F-104; by low level I meant, as much as anything, EFATO, approach and all that. Things never go wrong then do they?

By the original seat, I assume you mean the downwards jobbie?

Another good ejection story I heard was about one of the Red Arrows who hit the runway at Akrotiri in a Hawk while recovering from a loop. As the aircraft disintegrated around him he pulled the "oh sh*t" handle and survived. That one true? And accurate?

God Bless James Martin, eh?

26th Jul 2002, 22:48
I think the F-104 was known as the "Widow Maker " every where. The Luftwaffe loss rate was appalling. 25%? Not sure how how the Belgian, Dutch, Italian and Norwegian losses compared. The Canucks lost a few as well, sold most of the left-overs to Turkey.

27th Jul 2002, 03:48
There was a time that if you wanted to get hold of a 104, you bought a field in Germany and just waited until one crashed in it!:eek:

27th Jul 2002, 20:36
If anyone has any photographs of seats, or actual ejections I would be glad to receive them for the website.
Many thanks

28th Jul 2002, 12:55
As an aside, I thought the F-104 got it's "Widowmaker" tag cos the Luftwaffe had the bright idea of turning a high altitude interceptor into a fighter-bomber? Given the teeny wings it's not surprising that it lacked a bit at low level.

28th Jul 2002, 21:31
Re the Vulcan crash at Malta, I was actually lying on the grass near the runway threshold - we were on some sort of taceval standby at the time, as I recall.

The aircraft was a 'lone ranger' on its way to Cyprus, so also had a crew chief on board. The approach looked normal enough, but in the last 200ft or so it became very apparent that the rate of descent was very high. It was at this point that I do remember getting to my feet very quickly and moving backwards.

The aircraft hit the piano keys very hard, and the nose also dropped very hard. The main undercarriage was driven into the wing roots, but this was not obvious at the time. Full power was applied, and with the aircraft being relatively light it got airborne again rapidly.

The nose gear could be seen bent rearwards at a slight angle. More ominous was the immediate fire that appeared on the top of the starboard wing.

The aircraft turned left and climbed to about 1500ft downwind, and we assumed they were heading out to sea to eject/bail out. A lot of us were shouting at this stage for the crew to get out. By this stage, the fire was very fierce. A few seconds later, the aircraft banked sharply to the left, and we thought the pilot was going to attempt another landing. That was rapidly followed by a huge flash, and the right wing detached. I do not recall hearing any sound of the explosion, but did see both ejection seats travel nearly horizontally for what seemed like forever, before the chutes deployed.

The starboard wing landed in the main street of a small town called Zabbar, and the ensuing fireball travelled rapidly up the road . A woman sitting in a car got out & tried to outrun the fire and was killed. The main fuselage landed in a school playground. Since it was early afternoon, the local population were enjoying their siestas, and no-one else on the ground was injured.

The pilots both recovered, though I believe the captain didn't fly again. This was the second Vulcan ejection for him, though on the first occasion the rear crew also got out. This time, the damaged nose gear had apparently jammed the escape hatch.

3rd Aug 2002, 08:00
I think it was Chuck Yeager's autobiography (Yeager) where he mentions two test pilots in a T-38 or something like that. Anyway some emergency happened (can't remember the details) and the navigator punched out and the pilot stayed in and managed a safe landing. The interesting thing was that in the subsequent investigation it was claimed that if the navigator hadn't punched out he would have been killed and if the pilot had punched out he would have been killed. So both survived!

Also a friend of mine whose father flew Canberras tells me a story of how one of the canberra pilots was a bit of a joker and one day sprang a hoax emergency fire in the left engine on his navigator just to see how he would react. Two seconds later the navigator was gone! Apparently it was standard op. procedure to punch out given this particular emergency so the navigator didn't think twice about it. The prankster pilot methinks got in a bit of how water.

Not sure how much truth there is to either of these stories and suspect that they have been 'embellished' over the years.

As for widowmakers, I believe Spain used them for years without a single loss, y eso no esta mal! ;)


Dr Jekyll
3rd Aug 2002, 08:56
There was a case some years ago of an aircraft dropping skydivers, I think a Turbo Porter, which developed a problem shortly after take off.

All the skydivers, plus the pilot, baled out. One of them was killed in the process, but the aircraft landed intact and was put back into service!

Matt Black
5th Aug 2002, 01:05

Around August 1998 I was preparing for a flight at Boscombe Down when we were delayed due to a cracked window which had occurred as the result of a ground pressure test. We were lying around on the grass next to the aircraft, happily munching our way through our butty boxes when a two-seat Hunter went out on a test flight having been through a ground overhaul.

Shortly afterward it returned, circled overhead, and commenced ( in my view ) a steep approach. When it was abeam us, it was clear something was wrong, as the aircraft was moving too fast. We jumped to our feet, in time to watch the drag chute stream and snap away from its cable. The aircraft continued at high speed down the runway, when there were two bangs, rather like a shotgun, follwed by the appearance of two parachutes. The aircraft pitched up, then yawed before hitting the ground and exploding. The two guys got out, I believe one suffered a broken ankle.

Ref the F104, I understand that the reason for the downward ejecting seat was that at the time the 104 was entering service, the bang seats of the time did not have the performance to get a pilot clear of the T-tail at high speeds, hence the solution was a downward ejecting seat. The two guys referred to in a T38 were, if memory serves, flying an F104 two seater. One punched out, correctly, the other stayed with the ship, and it was found afterward that his seat ( guide rails? ) had been twisted, hence he would not have ejected properly.

BTW, a mate of mine managed to blag a free lunch in the MB stand at Farnborough when we were there last week, on account of disposing of one of Her Majesty's aircraft and earning himself a place on a BOI and a funny blue tie in the process.

6th Aug 2002, 22:25
There is a story on Jim G's site about a high speed ejection from a Lightning. High speed I think equates to around mach 0.96 with 500mph wind blast.

Not very pleasant, but the pilot concerned flew again and is still flying today.


6th Aug 2002, 23:27
Akrotiri, early `60`s, PR9 Canberra.
"O.K. Sarge, I`ve disarmed that seat."
Sarge picks up spring balance and walks to pan, stands on Navs seat, hooks spring balance into seat pan handle and pulls. Big Bang. Sarge says "Oh ****, wrong aircraft."
He survived because the frangible panel was removed and, as he was leaning forward to look at the scales, he sort of rolled off the front of the seat as it went up. He landed flat on his back on the rear fuselage and slid to the ground, unhurt. As he went out, the Verey pistol ripped the side off his left shoe.

Mike W

6th Aug 2002, 23:32
Not an ejection but relates to the issue I suppose.

Apparently a RAAF PC-9 on a low level training Nav got into a bit of a dilema. As it was a nav there was the instructor and student (student in the front) and part way throught the instructor asked the student if he would like a minty. When he tried to pass the minty to the student it fell to the floor and underneath one of the seats, out of reach. This would have required the removal and inspection of the seat (so I am told) because of the possibility of damage to any of the firing mechanisms and not wanting to have to go back and tell anyone decided to do what any full minded person would have done. He told the student that he was taking over and rolled the aircraft inverted thinking that the minty would 'fall' to the canopy and the student could grab it - problem over. Not quite. As I said this was a nav and so as soon as it went inverted all the associated nav gear went with the minty, pens, maps, pencils etc. The poor old student and instructor got some weekly award for stupidity after that.

7th Aug 2002, 08:17
There is a story about a student parachutist whose 'chute opened while he was exiting a Cessna 180 - he got hung up in the aircraft and apparently a photo exists of the C180, student and pilot all coming down suspended under the canopy. Both survived, thgough I can't comment on how the Cessna fared!

My question: anyone got a copy of that photo, I'd love to see it!

7th Aug 2002, 14:55
These stories are great.
If anyone knows anyone whose ejected please ask them to contact me.
My e-mail is on the website:

14th Aug 2002, 19:09
Does anyone have info relating to the Canberra or the Hunter used by Martin Baker for high altitude / high speed airborne tests?

14th Aug 2002, 19:24
Sorry to hog my own thread , but I just had to share this with you that was e-mailed to me:

The best story I ever heard goes back to the dark ages when we had money to spend on defence and education. The Royal Navy used to have a 'Seat Bus'. Literally a mobile training unit which toured the UK and gave the civil emergency services an insight into the MB products used by the Fleet Air Arm. One of the things you learn is to recognise when a punter is not sure of something, you then focus in on them. This is how the story goes...

"... Does anyone have any questions?.. Come on you're not happy about something, what is it?"

"You said that after the parachute deploys the sticker straps cause the seat to rotate away from the occupant and then allow it to fall away?"

"Yes, that's right."

"Does the seat have it's own parachute?"

"No. It's done it's job and now it's just scrap metal."

"So what do I do if I'm sitting at home and an ejection seat comes through my roof?"

"Pray. Because somewhere up there is twenty plus tons of aeroplane without a driver!"

19th Aug 2002, 20:22
Don't know about the C180, but there was an incident (okay, not related to bangseats) where a jumper was part of a large jump from (I think) a DC-3. Problem was that he was on the door rail so the group could all jump at once, but when they departed, his rip-stop nylon jumpsuit snagged a bolt inside the door frame and he was left dangling by the ankle in the slipstream, unable to get free. The DC3 pilot, oblivious to this (since when he looked back, there wasn't anyone in the aeroplane) proceeded to land - only hearing about the problem when it was too late to worry about it. They dragged the poor sod the length of the runway. Happily, his unopened parachute ablated instead of his back, and he survived with nothing more than (presumably) a stained jumpsuit :)

Only instance I know of where a person was saved because his chute did NOT open :D:D:D

19th Aug 2002, 22:36
I remember that story EI, it was indeed a DC-3 in Arizona. There was a fantastic programme on C4 in the UK a few years ago called "Dead Men's Tales" about people who got away with parachuting accidents. Most of the incidents were recreated by stuntmen like the late, great Tip Tipping - some of it made my shoulders shrink!

I have a great admiration for parachutists! But I'll stay in the aeroplane, thanks!

21st Aug 2002, 22:13
In 1956 as an Army National Service 2/Lt I was sent on a fire officer training course with Kent Fire Brigade. One event we were trained for was getting a pilot out of a crashed aircraft fitted with an ejector seat (an unlikely scenario...). Having been made well aware of the danger of being hurled skywards in one's rescue efforts, we were led through the MB seat's handles, mortar etc very well. Then of course there were the others. I don't remember instruction on US seats (or were they MB by then?), but we were warned that on Mig 15s there were all manner of different designs, the ejector mortar was known to go off unpredicably, no warning signs etc, so the carefully unstated message was that whilst one should always try to save the life of our gallant Soviet enemy, it might be wisest to wait for the pilot to get out by himself.....

4th Sep 2002, 13:33
If anyone has access to photos, adverts, books relating to this subject (ejection seats) I would be interested in hearing from them with a view to purchasing, blagging, borrowing etc.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th Sep 2002, 14:41
Treadigraph - the parachuting Cessna incident happened at Ahsbourne, Derbyshire. I have a book at home (into the silk??) which shows a poor quality photo of the whole lot coming down - the Cessna nose-first and vertical, with the chute streaming behind. I expect it came down quite quickly!

Another, much more dramatic, photo in the book is the Lighning on short final to Hatfield. It is about 100 feet in the air, pointing verytically down, with the pilot (Jimmy Dell?) having ejected (he landed in a greenhouse and survived with minor injuries). In the forground of the picture is a trcator, with the driver looking back in amazement at the about-to-impact Lighning.

It had been out over East Anglia for some photos of a DH missile on the wings (IIRC) and got a fire in the rear fuselage. It almost made it back to Hatfield before the elevator controls failed and the pilot ejected on short final.


4th Sep 2002, 15:04

The Lightning in the greenhouse pilot was George Aird. The photographer was actually doing a piece on agriculture when the Lightning descended into his viewfinder! :D


21st Sep 2002, 18:42
The Martin Baker Mk 8 seat was developed for the TSR2. Does anyone have any info on how many Mk 8's were actually made? I know of the whereabouts of 7 of these seats, but does anyone know of any more that might be in museums, collections etc? I have contacted Martin Baker but they cant shed any light on how many were made.

30th Sep 2002, 19:46
If anyone out there in testing land is having a clear out of the top shelf and comes across ANYTHING to do with ejection seats /aircraft escape systems, please could I have it?
Message me for my snail mail address and I'll pay postage.
Thank you.

13th Oct 2002, 21:10
In an attempt to get an almost definitive list could ppruners advise me where there are ejection seats on display.
Museums, etc.
If possible list what the seats are ..
many thanks