That got my attention.
Now, there’s probably not a situation that requires more of an immediate ‘ownership’ of a problem, than in the precise moment when a pilot calls for an ejection to be initiated from an aircraft they are flying.
If we were to break down exactly what would happen in the next few seconds, it might help us to understand the magnitude of my student’s decision.
Initiating the ejection sequence is done by an aggressive pull of the ejection seat firing handle which detonates explosive miniature cord that is embedded in the canopy above your head.
This canopy now explodes into millions of razor sharp fragments only a few inches from your face.
Simultaneously, a telescopic tube with two explosive charges is fired at the rear of the seat which starts to move it up the guide rails activating an emergency oxygen supply. Personal equipment and communication leads are automatically severed. Leg and arm restraints rapidly draw your limbs in towards your body to minimise injuries that will be caused by your sudden projection into a exceptionally violent airflow.
As the seat moves up and out of the cockpit, a rocket pack is fired by a lanyard attached to the cockpit floor. You are now subjected to 25 times the force of gravity which is so brutal that often your head will impact your knees should you not have time to adopt a proper ejection posture.
A steel rod, known as the drogue gun, is now fired and extracts a small parachute to stabilise the seat in its new environment. Above 16,500 ft a barostatic mechanism prevents the main parachute from opening as the thin air will render you unconscious if your oxygen supply was to run-out at this height. A time delay unit deploys the main parachute below this altitude once it has calculated that it won’t be ripped apart due to the high wind speed.
The seat then automatically falls away allowing you to enjoy what is left of your parachute descent.
The whole thing is over in about 2 seconds and often, if still conscious, you’ll get a privileged view of a very large fireball where your once exceptionally valuable, but completely uninsured fighter jet, has just parked itself into the nearest orphanage.
Now you just have the rest of your parachute ride to come up with the most convincing story you can think of as to why you have just reduced your nation’s war fighting capability by one very expensive asset.