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Ejection seat stories?

Discussion in 'Military/Tactical/Wilderness EMS' started by mycrofft, Jan 3, 2010.

  1. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    Location:
    Central California
    Work with them? Any war stories? (If it is second hand, please include that).l
    If you have none, go see if Kevin Coyne' website is still up. THEN you will!;)

    http://www.ejectionsite.com/

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2010
  2. akflightmedic

    akflightmedic Active Member

    Nice topic. I have had two over here in Afghanistan.

    First one was an ejection from the tarmac due to aircraft on fire. Pilot had several spinal fx's but no permanent damage.

    Second one was a low altitude ejection, pilot banged up a bit but nothing worth writing home about.

    We have had numerous courses on the different aircraft so we know what to touch and not touch when called to aircraft emergencies.

    I wrote an article on the first one and will see if I can find it and share.
  3. Akulahawk

    Akulahawk EMpTy eaRNer

    Location:
    Unincorporated Sacramento County
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    At a squadron my dad used to be assigned to, a couple years prior to his arrival there, someone armed the seat and pulled the handle while still in the hangar. :blink: Supposedly there was still some visible damage in the hangar when he got there. Good reminder not to haphazardly arm the seats.
  4. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    Location:
    Central California
    Check out Mr Coyne's website.

    I've heard the "in hangar" one many times but never first person. If that were to happen it would most likely be someone other than a pilot; plane is towed outside, safety streamers (including safety pins on seats) pulled, then pilot gets in and they "light the fires".
  5. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    Location:
    Central California
  6. Akulahawk

    Akulahawk EMpTy eaRNer

    Location:
    Unincorporated Sacramento County
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    My understanding was that it wasn't any pilots or crew... or any of the seat maintenance guys... apparently the guy saw an open canopy, climbed in, sat down... and pulled the handle. In the hangar. Oops.
  7. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    Location:
    Central California
    Version I heard was it was a kid.

    Don't know what would be worse, undergoing seat initiation, or the crewchief and/or pilot catching you there making jet noises.

    Try pulling the handle a quarter second too late as the plane is nosing over into the ground during a crash.


    OOPS, 2010. Hope AK's home and dry by now!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2011
  8. usafmedic45

    usafmedic45 New Member

    Location:
    Indiana
    I wonder how big of a smear mark he left on the ceiling.
  9. cmetalbend

    cmetalbend New Member

    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    I wondered, "What does that cost to fix?" I assume these are only used when the aircraft is headed for total distruction, so did this fella just trash a multimillion dollar aircraft?
  10. usafmedic45

    usafmedic45 New Member

    Location:
    Indiana
    Usually. Although it can be used in an attempt to escape the aircraft when it's on the ground if something were to go catastrophically wrong (think: fire while taxiing).

    Possibly. Although it is possible to repair an aircraft that's had an ejection on the ground if it's not more than the replacement value of the aircraft.
  11. cmetalbend

    cmetalbend New Member

    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    One of my relation might be able to put a $ figure on this, he is a Military aircraft Inspector. I'll inquire about it next time we chat. Should be interesting.
  12. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    Location:
    Central California
    Smear Size...call Mythbusters.

    Martin Baker Mark 6 was zero to 14 G's. Later seat was zero to nineteen G's in zero point zero seven seconds. No idea about ACES II or other seats. Go to the link I posted in OP above and talk to Kevin Coyne, he has even collected seats.
  13. Akulahawk

    Akulahawk EMpTy eaRNer

    Location:
    Unincorporated Sacramento County
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    It's definitely possible to repair an aircraft that has had a ground ejection. The cost to fix it won't be greater than the cost to replace IF the ejection was from someone doing a dumb thing as opposed to a fire or some other airframe endangering incident.

    Remember another source of damage to the aircraft isn't just the catapult and/or rocket motor... it's that the canopy, canopy frame, connectors/hinges, seat tie-downs/anchors... and whatever the seat hits if it hits the airframe when it comes back down.

    There's a few stories of accidental ejections where the seat catapult discharged (that's a 14-20g acceleration) and didn't completely separate from the aircraft while in flight... The aircraft wasn't replaced. There's a great photo of an A-6 BN that survived such an event.
  14. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    Location:
    Central California
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2011
  15. Akulahawk

    Akulahawk EMpTy eaRNer

    Location:
    Unincorporated Sacramento County
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    Just a minor detail if you happen to be driving one of those things.... ;)

    The Bone has ejection seats fitted now...
  16. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    Location:
    Central California
    Yeah, I saw that B-1 seat.

    When I was a rescueman we were taught to respect seats (especially the downward firing B-52 ones), and leaning over a basic seat to extract an aircrewman entailed leaning out over the drogue gun (besides the two-stage seat cannon/rocket combo). Taught us to cut and twist the lines, except the ACES and Douglas seats had that sweet little "headknocker", becuase obtunded or unconscious aircrew were known to go for the ejection handles if they woke up.
  17. Akulahawk

    Akulahawk EMpTy eaRNer

    Location:
    Unincorporated Sacramento County
    EMS Training:
    EMT-Paramedic
    Always respect the seat... I was lucky enough to be occasionally around various aircraft when I was a kid.
  18. kmceject

    kmceject New Member

    Resurrecting the dead thread...

    Hello all,

    I found this thread looking for a blog entry on my site and had to hop in, even though it is a little stale. The topic is one close to my heart. I have great respect for all personnel who have to work in dangerous jobs, including EMTs and other first responders, as well as military personnel. Many occupations in both have more hazards than the average person realizes.

    Ejection seats for example. They can be considered to be weapons capable of propelling a 350-450lb multi-part projectile to a height of at least 100ft above ground, and in some cases much higher. Their destructive power should not be underestimated.

    Maintainance and/or ground mishap ejections have occurred many times over the years, with actually the first US Army ejection being one out of a Heinkel cockpit being prepped for shipping to the US. They are often fatal, but even the non-fatal ones often leave devastating injuries. I have seen photos of a F-4 Phantom Mk H7AF ejection seat sitting on the roof of a hanger (corrugated steel construction) near the bent metal hole where it had exited the roof. I have spoken to people who have had to clean up the wreckage of an A-4 Skyhawk 'hot seat' ejection where three people were killed by the ejection and rocket blast. I know of a Phantom ejection where a crew chief was killed lowering the seat bucket onto a circuit breaker panel placed under the seat temporarily as he replaced the battery of the aircraft. The panel shorted against the underseat rocket and ignited it.

    As to the A-6 BN who partially ejected, his seat did not actually fire. It suffered a fatigue crack in the top latch window which allowed the seat to lift up in the cockpit during a negative G maneuver. The seat moved enough that the trip rods for the time release mechanism and drogue gun were pulled. This allowed for the seat to execute the post ejection deployment of the drogue chutes, and then after a very short delay released the drogues to withdraw the main parachute and unlatch the crewman from the seat. The parachutes (drogues or main or both) pulled the seat up the rails and partly out of the cockpit before pinning the seat back against the rear of the cockpit. The main chute streamed along the fuselage and entangled the horizontal stabilizer. This luckily did not effect controllability, but it managed to act as a restraint system, pinning the crewman to his seat by his parachute harness. (His hips were released by the lap belt being released, but he was connected to the survival kit in the seat pan and that kept him in the seat and upright.) Thanks to his pilot, and the carrier crew, he was not further injured in his landing thanks to that miraculous entanglement keeping him from being impaled on the shards of the canopy that were left in front of him.

    One of the questions I'd like to answer is about repairing the aircraft after a ground ejection. It happens, and often is within reason financially. The major damage often has to do with the rocket blast during the seat firing. I am about to post a photo on my site from last years CF-18 ejection that shows the rocket efflux spilling out of the cockpit as the pilot's feet clear the canopy bow. I would rank this photo as literally the best ejection photo I have ever seen, and I have literally hundreds of test ejection photos and films in my collection.

    One person I spoke to listed to me the amount of repairs done to a cockpit after a maintainance mishap. He said besides replacing the canopy and seat (with all the aforementioned replacement parts from a prior post) they had to replace all the cockpit instruments and controls, remove all the interior panels and inspect/repair all the damage done underneath them from rocket blast, and replace sections of the aircraft skin behind the cockpit. It was about $500,000 as I recall not including the seat and canopy costs. For an $18million bird, that is not bad.

    One last comment. The comment about the smear on the ceiling was rather apt. One Navy AME told me that after a ejection mishap on the hanger deck they took care of the killed AME by 'painting over the dent in the hanger ceiling.' Very sad.

    Take care if you ever come across a seat, even a very old one. Like many stories of antique ammo or grenades being found, ejection seats can harbor live cartridges after years. Even ejected seats often have backup charges that are not fired. One ACES II from an F-16 I know of was recovered after five years and had two live cartridges. One would be able to fire a 1lb slug out the back of the seat to withdraw the drogue parachutes.

    Kevin
  19. mycrofft

    mycrofft Still crazy but elsewhere

    Location:
    Central California
    I was thinking about using the seat I bought on EBAY as a barbecue...

    Any of our current military members have any newer ejection seat memoirs to share? HOw about types and severity of injuries you have had to treat due to seat initiations?
  20. kmceject

    kmceject New Member

    Site updated, and some modern stuff to discuss

    Modern seats have much fewer deaths involved than the 1960s or earlier technology, but interfacing humans with high velocity wind ballistically is still a dangerous environment. I just posted the aforementioned photo on my site - The Ejection Site, see my profile for link or search for it. Can't post the URL directly as I don't have enough posts here. This photo shows a pilot, CAPT Bews ejecting from a CF-18 last year during airshow practice. His body position clearly shows one of the main reasons for back injuries, and indeed he suffered three fractured vertibra during the ejection. Even the modern rocket-assisted seats like the SJU-17 NACES he is riding have in excess of 10Gz peaks during ejection. In his case it appears that the inertia reel didn't hold him upright as well as intended and his body suffered 'slump', a condition where the flexibility of the human form overcomes the muscle control needed to keep it upright. Normally the head slumps forward, adding a huge pull to the neck and torso, which pulls the body forward and out of position. This is why you are trained to slam your head back against the headrest while ejecting. In this case the ejection occurred at an adverse attitude where gravity and momentum/inertia was pulling CAPT Bews out of the upright position and making it difficult to stay there.

    Other causes of injury include the related slamming back of the head against the headrest when the airflow over the canopy is breached by the head and torso of the aircrew during a high speed ejection. This can cause such injuries as concussion and neck strain. Also high speed airflow over a curved surface like a helmet tends to produce lift. This lift causes neck strain in an upwards direction, and can lead to other neck injuries.

    The wind force of a 600kt ejection (approximately supersonic) is at about 1500lbs per square foot- this equates to over 6000lbs on the 4.5sqft frontal area of a seat/man package. As you might guess this can cause injuries as well. Flail is induced as the extremities are torn from their normal position by forces greater than the crewpersons muscles can withstand. Dislocations and broken bones are not uncommon at these kinds of forces, and in some of the worst case scenerios the crewperson can be fatally injured by this damage, often when tissues and blood vessels are stretched beyond their structural limits.

    In terms of ground injuries, beyond the ones previously discussed, there are many devices on seats that are powered or spring loaded. A friend suffered a fractured thumb and loss of thumbnail due to a completely inert F-16 ACES II. He was resetting the seat firing handle by rotating over center the bellcrank that pulls the two initiator firing pins when his thumb became trapped by the bellcrank against the housing. Essentially he was trapped by a 127lb mousetrap. The pain was so great he could not overcome the 40lb force necessary to pull the handle or rotate the bellcrank for about 45 minutes.

    Another case I know of is the canopy breakers on Escapac seats. Some versions are spring-loaded. For safety they tend to be wired down with steel wire on inert seats. One was sold to a collector who decided he didn't like the look of the steel wire so he snipped it while resting his hand on the canopy breaker. The breakers should be locked in place by the firing mechanism (when the handle is pulled it mechanically unlocks the breakers so they snap upwards to shatter the acrylic) but in this case apparently were not. The 1/4 inch wide unsharpened breaker snapped up and out of his hand cutting his palm severely.

    In service, the ACES II has an electrically fired sequence system. The power for this comes from a set of onboard thermal batteries in the sequencer. In certain cases when the seat is not handled according to the technical orders the thermal batteries can be actuated. In at least one case I know of this happened. The maintainers were moving the seat around and the seat was 'hot'. Since the seat did not have a catapult it was relatively safe as the 'sequence' had not been actuated by the sequence start switch. Unfortunately, the seat had not been properly safed and the Emergency Manual Chute handle was not secured. It was pulled somehow while manhandling the seat and the secondary mortar cartridge was fired. (This is one of the only ways to manually cause a dangerous bang on that seat!)

    The main parachute container, which when packed weighs over 30lbs was launched with enough force to penetrate the hanger wall. Luckily neither crewman was in its path.

    Kevin

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