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-   -   Vulcans - rear crew disabling pilots ejector seats in flight (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/438906-vulcans-rear-crew-disabling-pilots-ejector-seats-flight.html)

HTB 21st Jan 2011 11:16

Spot on Pontious - the ultimate causal factor in a train of events was the fire in the bomb bay. And also spot on with the AEO, who you know is built like a brick outhouse - I used to play squash with him and on numerous occasions found myself splatterd against a wall or holding various body parts following ball (squash variety that is) or racquet strike.

As an amusing little aside, you may also recall he was an avid stamp collector, of both the valuable uncommon sort and the unfranked sort that you could recover from envelopes. I inevitably shared a room with him on a MRR jaunt to Akrotiri - standard 3 single beds (can't remenber the block number) - as the Plotter was a sqn ldr and pilot usually one up from that (no idea what the co did, probably found other kids to play with). His first ploy was to soak a sackful of envelopes in the wash basin (thereby removing the ready use urinal) to float off the stamps; the next phase was placing the recovered stamps to dry on the unused middle bed; phase 3 was HTB coming in later from the mess, happy and replete, turning the fans on to full as it was a steamy hot night...and a room full of fluttering paper. He was not pleased.

macwood 23rd Jan 2016 16:56

Seat pin safety reversed.
The first trip I did as a very junior crew chief,was "arranged" because all the other crew chiefs had boycotted this particular captain because he had charged his crew chief for accidentally reversing the pins .. Would this be the same instance?
Which reminds me -on the return trip pilot does a fancy pull up before turning for home. Me- standing on the ladder between seats happen to notice that number 3 engine oil pressure is low. Thinking that this must be a test of some sort ... Mentioned this on i/c and all hell broke out!
AEO says -bearing temps off the clock. Shut down engine and return to Goose -engine change for another 2 weeks at Goose ! Not a word from the crew except AEO who reckoned another minute and the engine would have blown. I think this incident has been airbrushed from history....

Pontius Navigator 23rd Jan 2016 17:15

Macwood, not sure what you are referring to but one incident was as follows.

At Akrotiri, as nav rad, I usually did the seat and canopy pins so that I would be well practised in the event of a ditching. Now the canopy had a two pin system (for the uninitiated) and when safe there was a pin in the sear ejector ram. To arm the sear was removed and the other pin on the ring inserted so the a blade could press against it during the canopy jettison. I don't recall the technical details.

Any way on this sortie I had armed the canopy. Then, unnoticed the crew chief entered the cabin, opened the cover, removed on pin and inserted the other, in the process safing the jettison system.

If was one of those things done by touch as it was difficult to see.

The chief was certainly not disciplined and it was decided that nav roads should not do the pins.

50+Ray 23rd Jan 2016 19:42

A couple of points which may have been clarified by others, but I have just come back to this thread. The seat sear was pulled out by a lanyard attached to the departing canopy. If that did not go nothing would.
The Spilsby RAT drill event caused controversy at the time, but the Board had to calm down when all the evidence had been excavated from the hole. As I recall, and I was on the squadron at the time, the aircraft was doomed from the moment the RAT handle was pulled. Certainly it over-volted and there was in those days no means of isolating it. There was evidence of previous pitting on the fuel pipe which was at the seat of the fire, and frankly the AEO could not take any blame for the accident.

Wander00 23rd Jan 2016 20:36

'66 time we had a very experienced sqn ldr QFI, E...F... on the new 360 Sqn, who had ISTR an AFC, and had been posted very quickly after a student landed him and a Vulcan without the benefit of the undercarriage between them and the runway. I think all walked away afterwards. Anyone have any knowledge. BTW, he was in my eyes as a young first tourist a brilliant QFI and he taught me a huge amount.

Exnomad 24th Jan 2016 11:26

The meteor T7 losses in 1953 were the prime reson I did not stay in the RAF after national service.
Newly qualified navigators most probable postings. Shacks, 20 hour patrols. No thanks, Meteor NF11, safety record

Lyneham Lad 24th Jan 2016 14:39

Apropros Vulcan abandonments, don't think the Cottesmore kite's practice asymmetric approach that went somewhat awry at Scampton has been mentioned. It came to rest against the tower sans canopy and IIRC the nose leg was still in place. Not sure if the crew all scrambled out of the top or the rear crew via the door.

Pontius Navigator 24th Jan 2016 15:35

Originally Posted by 50+Ray (Post 9246903)
. The seat sear was pulled out by a lanyard attached to the departing canopy. If that did not go nothing would

That reminds me of the rear crew joke and the threat to disconnect the lanyard.

For a ditching that lanyard would be disconnected before canopy jettison but seat pins inserted as well. IIRC.

Tinribs 1st Feb 2016 20:02

Victor Canopy
It's a long time ago etc
I recall an event on 55 at Marham when a nav sitting in the co seat activated the canopy jettison instead of the seat raise lower, because the aircraft was pressurized the canopy hatch didn't go

Exnomad 1st Feb 2016 20:24

Vulcan crew exit
Rear crew exit on Vulcans was supposed to be via a slot in the floor, just behind the pilots.
Probably practical at 250k or less, but doubtful at full speed, as in trying to leave unfriendly airspace.

G-CPTN 1st Feb 2016 20:35

Rear crew exit on Vulcans was supposed to be via a slot in the floor, just behind the pilots.
This was also the entrance.

There is a 'door' hinged along the front that when lowered gave a 'chute' for the exiting crew.


OldAgeandTreachery 1st Feb 2016 20:56

With reference to the Malta crash: I was at the crash site the next morning and noticed that the rear crew seat "Booster Cushion" safety pins were still fitted to the seats. They had the "Remove before flight" warning on them.
Any ex V flyers able to shed some light on that?
A very lucky escape for the village of Zabbar because the main part of the aircraft fell on a piece of waste ground, but the burning wing landed in a street, killing a car driver.
As I remember weren't the ejection seats set off by the explosion of the wing?

Pontius Navigator 1st Feb 2016 21:42

OAT, you know, I have absolutely no recollection of safety pins. I guess there must have been pins but . . .

I must viusiut Newark for a refresher.

I know, when at low level I would leave my seat at low level wearing my parachute and dinghy.

How did you know about the pins? Did you see the seats? A couple of friends died on that flight.

OldAgeandTreachery 1st Feb 2016 22:13

Sorry to hear that.
I was on site early the next day and the area hadn't been touched. NOTHING had been moved. Yes, I saw the seats and the pins and remember raising the point with my oppo.
It is possible,I suppose, that the pins had been put in,during the last phase of a long flight, prior to landing.

I watched the whole thing from 13Sqn dispersal during NAAFI break. The station was on exercise at the time and the CO kept it running.

Old Speckled Aircrew 1st Feb 2016 22:38

With reference to the rear seat booster pins still fitted I was one of a number of rear crew who deliberately and regularly left the pin in. Our opinion was that if flying in turbulent conditions, especially in low level flight, we did not want an accidental firing of the cushion to happen when seated in our normal rear facing position with the possibility of trapping our legs under the table which, for the larger guys, may have required the use of a sharp aircrew knife to puncture it. In the event of a subsequent aircraft abandonment then any delay could have proved fatal.

50+Ray 2nd Feb 2016 08:35

My first trip across the pond to Goose was on the 7th seat, as my new Captain was ex-Cyprus and being screened into Winter Ops. It gave me an intro into 'life down in the hole' and also use of the sextant. As prescribed in GASOs we went through the Crew Escape Trainer a few days before the Ranger began.
Years later as a Captain I was on an annual Refresher visit in Groundschool. The Pilot instructor, many years my senior, remarked that he had NEVER had any suggestion from his rear crewmen that they would appreciate any more than the minimum number of Escape Trainer sessions. My fellow Captains on that Refresher week concurred!

Pontius Navigator 2nd Feb 2016 08:55


Agree. We practised getting out every trip. Likewise moving around with a parachute was nobig deal. The problem was the trainer had no added value for experienced crews. It was static and in still air.

On my second OCU we had Victor plotter and a Shack AEO. On exiting the trainer I had my kit off and wrapped up ready for the next drill before they emerged.

The only useful drill was the ditching, safing the seats, easing a recumbent copilot over the side and then hauling a disabled casualty from pit below.

I started a thread earlier intended to discuss parachute landing practise, well, in Cyprus the Regiment had the real deal. Our flt cdr arranged for us to use it, to a man we declined.

I don't believe FJ crews were that keen to practise rolls and dragson land either.

Timelord 2nd Feb 2016 11:36

Like PN I have no recollection of handling seat cushion pins. Where were they fitted, who removed them and where were they stowed?

Pontius Navigator 2nd Feb 2016 12:58

TL, thanks. As the cushion was not explosive and needed a positive upward pull on small black and yellow it proibabkyy didn't rate a pin.

OTOH, the trial with an explosive parachute drogue device was abandoned in case the Nav rad shot a pilot. It did work though as I saw the dummies deployed from a cShack at 300 kts over the Akrotiri salt lake.

The Oberon 2nd Feb 2016 13:47

Originally Posted by Timelord (Post 9256458)
Like PN I have no recollection of handling seat cushion pins. Where were they fitted, who removed them and where were they stowed?

A long time ago but I think the booster cushions were operated by a small bottle under the rear of the seat. The cable to the bottle was secured to the bottle operating sear by a pip pin. The pin did not have a designated stowage as even when removed, it was still attached to the seat assembly by a short wire lanyard.

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