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