Steve Gyles

Tie Club # 1552

It has been quite a year, to say the least, for everyone but perhaps it has been more memorable for me than for many – 43 years memorable.  It has also been a time for me to consider that but for a very special ‘seat’ I may not have been here to enjoy those happy years.

You see, way back on a wintry day in Nov 77 I was taking off in my Phantom F4 – the RAF’s then-latest fighter aircraft.  I was accelerating fast through 100 kts when the aircraft started to veer off to starboard.  Despite my attempts to correct the slew I was struggling with control when it suddenly snapped even more sharply to starboard out of control.

Steve’s F-4 Phantom

It was all happening so quick that almost in the same instant I aborted take-off at 120kts, the nosewheel hit the grass and my left rear view mirror seemed to explode in a ball of flame.  Equally swiftly I realised that I had just seen my navigator eject from the rear cockpit.

The aircraft I ejected from ‘lived’ to fly another day.  My Nav and I also both flew again after short periods of hospital treatment and recuperation and I’ve always been grateful to know that my Martin-Baker ejection seat would work as expected.

Steve’s Ejection Seat

Looking back, I may not have needed to eject.  But there again there are probably many aircrew who opted not to eject and did not survive to tell their story; I’m glad I’m not one of them!

Steve remembering his ‘Glory Days’

To read the full version of Steve’s story click here.

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