I’ve recently retired from the Royal Air Force as a Weapons Technician, having worked on the Jaguar and Tornado Ejections Seats.
My time at RAF Coltishall was spent as a maintainer in Armament Engineering Flight, in the Jaguar Ejection Seat Bay on the Mk-9 seat.
During my 4 years in the bay, I stripped down many seats and their components. Servicing, rebuilding, testing and refitting components and then testing the entire system.
I was also lucky enough to be involved in the NVG system upgrade. I remember each seat took a fair while, having to strip the seat back to its bare shell, then install the modification set.
No pressure, but if you drilled a hole in the wrong place, there would have been some explaining to do!!
I then moved onto the Jaguar aircraft for a short period before RAF Coltishall closed in 2006. My next chapter of being part of the Ejection Seat world took me to RAF Marham, where I spent 10 years on the Tornado gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience on the Mk-10 seat. I was never lucky enough to be involved in any modification programs, but removing, installing and completing vital and independent checks, it was always here in the back of your mind, don’t mess this up. If it’s needed, there are no second chances. I recall driving to Marham one afternoon for a night shift to hear on the radio, one of our Tornados had inadvertently “parked” itself (not the words of the radio presenter) in The Wash off North Norfolk after having a bird strike in both engines . It was a relief to hear the crew had got out safely.
I’ve had a brilliant time in the RAF over my 22 years and ejection seats have always been big part of it, during the good times and the bad times. The world of fast jets just wouldn’t be the same without them.