Peter Ruddock CB CBE FRAeS
As a young fighter pilot in training at RAF Brawdy in South Wales I was tasked to fly a Hunter on an air combat training sortie as part of a four-ship formation with another aircraft as the ‘bounce.’ It was Friday the 13th of May 1977 and we tried several times to fly the mission, eventually getting airborne that afternoon. At 20,000’ feet I opened the throttle to full power to start a manoeuvre and the engine suffered an uncontained failure, which resulted in a very sudden deceleration and most of the warning lights in the cockpit illuminating. I was over the Irish Sea and about 20-miles from land, so I tried to glide as close to land as possible. Unfortunately, the fire burned through the controls and I ejected in a steep dive at 9,000’ feet and 330kts. I completed my drills, enjoyed the parachute decent and was in my dingy about 10-minutes later. The Whirlwind rescue helicopter from RAF Brawdy was scrambled and I was recovered 45-minutes after I had ejected. After a short stay in sick bay, I was released to enjoy my weekend and was back in the cockpit on the Monday morning. I went on to have two wonderful children and now grandchildren too and a full career in the RAF, retiring as an Air Marshal in 2011. I am relishing my second career with Lockheed Martin in the UK, as the Chief Executive – thank you Martin-Baker for making this possible. Today ‘13’ is my lucky number!