Throughout my 31 years in the Royal Air Force, as a weapons mechanic and Technician, working on Martin-Baker Escape Systems are among some of the highlights of my career.
My first real introduction to seat maintenance was helping to remove and refit the Mk 9 in the Jaguar whilst on No’s 31 and 20 Squadrons serving in Germany in the early 80’s.
After being posted back to the UK, it was another decade before I returned to working on Ejection seats when I was promoted and became the SNCO of the AAES bay at RAF Bruggen, working on Mk 10a Tornado seats. It was a great place to be, and the professionalism shown by all the lads in the section was second to none. Their excellent work was put to the test on a couple of occasions whilst I was there. The first was an ejection from an aircraft undergoing an air test after servicing and the Second one was from an aircraft on a sortie which had an international crew of a British Navigator and Italian Pilot. Thankfully all the crew survived their ejections and the crates of beer, given to the bay, as thank you’s were gratefully received.
My 3rd and final time of working on AAES came when I was detached for 6 months to the Falkland Islands over Christmas in 2005 where again I was fitting and removing Mk10a seats to the Tornado F3’s on 1435 flight.
I have always felt that it was a privilege to work on AAES knowing that if your work was used it was someone’s last chance to stay alive and it was humbling to know that the crews that flew in your seats trusted you even though they didn’t know you.