“After having flown single engine fighters for most of my Navy career, I thought that flying the twin engine F-4N Phantom provided me with an extra margin of safety in the Naval Reserves. After all, I had survived two combat cruises to Southeast Asia flying the F-8 Crusader with a Martin-Baker rocket seat and never had to avail myself of its life saving capability.
Well, fast forward to November 2, 1976 on ACM flight about 70 miles West of Key West, Florida over the Gulf of Mexico. I was in the Navy Reserve and doing two weeks of active duty. I and my wingman were fighting a single A-4 using lots of afterburner and rolling scissors. Coming out of the bottom of one of the scissors I pushed the throttles up and tried to re-engage the burners but there was no engine response. By now we are at about 15,000 feet pointed up and slowing rapidly. I looked at the fuel gage and the totalizer was showing 4000 # and no low fuel light. I got the RAT out and began the relight procedure. By now we were descending rapidly and nothing good was happening with the re-light attempts. I conferred with my RIO and we ejected descending through about 8000 ft. I watched the plane splash in and saw that my backseater had a successful chute also. Unfortunately he lost his seat pan and survival raft in the ejection due to loose lap belts trying to check my six o’clock. A full time job I might add. We were picked up about an hour and a half later by the SAR helo and taken to NAS Key West sick bay. There we were pronounced fit. Everything worked exactly as advertised with our Martin-Baker seats and neither one of us had any injuries from the ejection.
Thank you Martin-Baker et al for your marvelous seats which allowed both my RIO and me to continue with our lives. I have three children and eight grandchildren and am thankful everyday for the precious gift of life. Had it not been for those Martin Baker Mk-H7 seats neither I nor Mack McKay would be here today. Life is good thanks to our creator and your marvelous seats.”