Mike ‘Ratso’ Cariello

Tie Club # 1552

“There is no doubt that Martin-Baker ejection seats have been saving aircrew lives for decades. As a matter of fact, the seat that saved me was designed and built before I was even born!

On January 8, 2000 I was ferrying a 1956 vintage Hawker Hunter from Mojave to Chino, California. I’d flown these jets in an adversary role since leaving the U.S. Marines as a fighter pilot about a year earlier. This particular jet was to get some electronics fixed in Chino, however, when preparing to land the engine decided to roll back and no longer responded to my throttle inputs. Not being able to make the runway, I set up on a farmers field to put her down in a safe area. I was planning to eject in a stable glide at a few hundred feet and 125 kts once I was assured the jet would impact the field. Unfortunately, as I was preparing for this I looked up at some very high power lines in my path that thwarted my efforts. I had to delay ‘pulling the handle’ until clearing the lines by flying underneath them. At approximately 40 feet altitude, I yanked the handle on that 44 year old MB seat (I was 39 at the time) and it fired, literally shooting through the canopy and out of the sick jet. I never got seat-man separation or a full chute, but I survived the impact with a few broken bones and a dislocated shoulder. I was alive!

So five years before I was born, the fine people at Martin-Baker built the seat that would save my life four and a half decades later. For that, my wife and I are eternally grateful to all the personnel at MB; past and present.”

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