Come Fly With Me: Civilian Accidentally Fired From Fighter Ejection Seat

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

One lucky passenger’s dream turned into a nightmare several weeks ago at a French air base. The ejection seat in his aircraft fired without warning while the plane was taking off, flinging him out of the aircraft.

Exact details of the incident don’t seem to be available. The aircraft was “taking off,” for example, but must have either been in the air already or had passed the point of no return. Aerotime.aero refers to the pilot landing the aircraft despite injuries from broken glass off the canopy. The passenger survived being ejected from the aircraft, though he was injured in the process. Ejection seats have parachutes that will automatically deploy, but whether they trigger just after takeoff (or would even be useful if they did) is unclear.

The good news is the unnamed 64-year-old man survived, though he was hospitalized after the incident with a back injury. “His health condition is not a cause for concern,” said Colonel Cyrille Duvivier, spokesman for the French Air Force. It’s not uncommon for civilians to be allowed up for rides in training flights such as the one the aircraft was engaged in, but they typically don’t depart the aircraft mid-flight. The video below shows a low-altitude ejection, albeit not from this event.

The jet involved in this incident and shown in the feature image above is the Rafale-B, a twin-seated version of the Rafale jet fighter. The Rafale is a 4.5-generation jet fighter, defined as a fourth-generation jet that’s been heavily upgraded with modern avionics, radar, and weapons. It’s fully compatible with US carriers and some pilots in the French Air Force are rated for US carrier landings in the aircraft. It’s been in service for decades and has never had a problem of this type.

The French reportedly grounded the Rafale-B for a week following the accident but the aircraft has since resumed service. As of last week, multiple investigations into the accident were still ongoing. All options for how the ejection seat fired, including a possible manual trigger, were still being investigated. Ejection seat launches typically require the pilot to pull a switch located between their legs. Did the man accidentally grab the worst handle imaginable to brace himself on during takeoff?

If he didn’t, that has to rank as one of the most confusing moments of all time. One moment, you’re enjoying the thrill of your life, looking forward to a rollicking adventure in the Wild Blue Yonder. The next, you’re floating downwards, having just been flung through the canopy of the aircraft you intended to be riding inside of for the next few minutes, with the ground approaching at grim velocity. One hopes he at least knew ejection seats have automatic parachutes.

Now Read: 

ExtremeTechExtreme – ExtremeTech