Clinton “Catfoot” Steele
One of the most awesome things in life is living long enough to tell the tale, it’s a fact that not everyone has this privelage.
I am grateful for two things..one..for thanking the Sergeant and his appy at the parachute section for packing the seat right..and two…now I have the chance at the age of 51 to thank Martin-Baker and all those people for making the seat work that one time!
I had only been out of school about 6 or 7 years and in a 3 year period I had experienced 3 minor compressor stalls…a flameout in bad weather at altitude with a relight about 3000 feet above the Drakensberg mountain range…a flameout after cannon fire on the breakoff low level with a relight…a near midair collision low level with a colleague on a separate navigation exercise over a turning point…a bird ingestion low level in the right intake, jettisoning external stores with a compressor locked stall to recover with low power and a low speed for return to base…the final hour arrived with an engine seizure during a sight check for an air-to-air firing exercise…dead sticking the aircraft onto an emergency airstrip called Toothrock, landing too fast…bursting tyres and pulling the ejection handle at the end of the runway.
I have always been grateful to be able to sit in a cockpit and fly, but that very day I was grateful to stand up in the dust looking with relief at the parachute draped over a farm fence.
..some time later I wrote this poem:
Ejection….you are alive…..you think you’re dead….you are alive…then you Live!!!
With humble thanks