Duncan Charles

I served in the Royal Air Force from 1975 – 2006, attaining the rank of Flight Sergeant. During this time, I worked on differing MB Ejection Seats.

After basic training I was posted to Hunter Wing at RAF Wittering, 1976. This was made up of 45 and 58 Squadron Hunters. This was my first introduction to fitting and removing the Mk2H/3H seats fitted to these aircraft.

My second chance to work on Ejection systems, which came with the Tornado and the Mk10A Ejection seat, RAF Cottesmore, 1980. Once more I was responsible for removal and fitment of Crew Escape Systems.

RAF Bruggen, 1985 and 17(F) Squadron Tornado. Removal and fitment and due to increases in Rank I was now carrying out Vital and Independent Checks on AAES fitment. At the end of my tour I managed a ‘back seat’ sortie and felt truly at ease flying sat on the MK10A.

RAF Bruggen, 1992 and now the SNCO I/C the Ejection Seat Bay, responsible for all maintenance aspects including maintenance and Independent checks as the seats were re-assembled and functional checks carried out. A proud moment for me was 1996 when a IX Sqn Tornado crew made a successful ejection on seats that I had worked on. It was great to meet them post their recovery and share a beer or two.

In 2006 I retired from the RAF and became a MoD civil servant Instructor at RAF Cosford. In 2008 I took over as the Subject Matter Expert responsible for delivering Crew Escape Systems training to the RAF future weapons technicians. The Mk10A was taught as a generic system. In 2014, I moved roles with a move to DE&S to become an engineering Desk Officer on the Crew Escape Systems Team, primarily responsible for the Typhoon Mk16 system but also assisting with the Tornado Mk10A as this platform approached the out of service date.

From my early introduction to MB Ejection seats there have been many leaps in progress and technology but the one remaining constant is to save lives!

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