David Satterthwaite

I am an ex RAF Armourer and served for 39 years.

My first dealings with the Martin Baker ejection seats was on my posting to 6 Sqn at RAF Akrotiri in 1964-67 carrying out the fitment and removal to Canberra B16 aircraft A story that I heard whilst there was of a Cpl carrying out the face blind pull off checks on a PR9 Canberra who forgot to disconnect the main gun firing unit sear Luckily he was sat on the windscreen with his feet on the seat pan and when the seat fired he was flipped over to land on the pan

In 1971-74 I was again posted to RAF Akrotiri this time on 56 Sqn operating Lightning Mk3 and later Mk6 aircraft carrying out fitment, removal and vital checks. I remember an ejection seat hoist gathering dust in a corner of the hanger, far easier to carry a seat along the spine of the aircraft and drop it in. Health and Safety?

1981-84 I was the SNCO I/c the seat bay at RAF Laarbruch responsible for the servicing of a number of different types of ejection seats. At the time the station had Hunter, Buccaneer, Jaguar and Tornado aircraft operating, so the work was very varied.

I was the SNCO I/c the seat bay at RAF Binbrook from 1984-88 carrying out the servicing of the ejection seats fitted to the Lightning aircraft. Whilst there I spent a couple of weeks at the factory in Denham learning how to carry out a modification to the Lightning seats. I remember part of the mod was to fit a guard around the BTRU and also to drill into the side of the seat pan to fit something else but can’t remember what. We also had to make the seats inoperable by grinding down the firing pins on the units as the aircraft were being sold to members of the public complete with ejection seats.

In 1988-94 I was SNCO I/c 2nd Line Bays at RAF Wyton with Canberra PR9 and T4 aircraft carrying out servicing checks on the ejection seats.

I was then posted to 5 Sqn at RAF Coningsby in 1994 as Wpns Trade Manager carrying out the fitment, removal and independent checks on the ejection seats.

1995-98 I was the Senior Wpns Instructor in the Tornado Maintenance School at RAF Cottesmore responsible for the training of RAF personnel working on the Tornado aircraft in the fitting and removal of the Martin Baker ejection seats.

As can be seen a long and varied career working on the ejection seats. What always struck me was the extremely high standards of the personnel working on the ejection seats; always running through your mind is that this is the aircrews last chance of survival.

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