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Accidents whilst servicing ejection seats.

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  • Muscle-Manta
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Feb 2009
    • 136

    Accidents whilst servicing ejection seats.

    I'm reading the book 'The De Haviland Sea Vixen' by Tony Buttler. In the indvidual aircraft historys I came accross the following entry for Sea Vixen XJ491 'Pilots seat fired during fitting, Victorious, Cat LQ, CAM(O) PM Rayner and LAM(O) ML Knight, both killed, 15.7.65.

    Tragic accident with fatal consequences. I have tried to find more info on how this accident happened. There must have been a board of inquiry. Where could I find the results?

    Anyone heard of this sort of accident happening before? Were they frequent back in the 1960s? Are the later mark's of ejection seat much safer to work on?

    Thanks, Paul.
  • pogno
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Dec 2005
    • 1176

    A Buccaneer was undergoing maintenance by BAe in the 1980's at Woodford and a seat was fired inside the hangar, with fatal results. I have searched but can find no info on it.

    "Where are you from?"
    "America" Somebody laughed politely.


    • cabbage
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Jun 2011
      • 306

      I heard about the Buccneer bang-seat accident. i believe it was a civilian contractor involved.
      There was also a Tornado F.3 seat accident, at Warton, post Gulf war, which I think had something to do wth the nightvision goggle modifications.

      I know of a few other "accidents" both fatal and injurous, that have happened over the years.


      • Wyvernfan
        • Oct 2007
        • 5836

        During research into the Wyvern I seem to recall reading about an incident at Lossiemouth involving an ejection seat inside one of the hangars, possibly involving a Hunter or Sea Hawk?!
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        • Muscle-Manta
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Feb 2009
          • 136

          Originally posted by Wyvernfan View Post
          During research into the Wyvern I seem to recall reading about an incident at Lossiemouth involving an ejection seat inside one of the hangars, possibly involving a Hunter or Sea Hawk?!
          I read something about this also. Hunter I think on a high power ground run with a Petty Officer (PO) in the cockpit. Jumped the chocks and crashed into a hanger. The PO decided to eject at some point. Killed or very seriously injured ??
          Last edited by Muscle-Manta; 18th May 2019, 21:18. Reason: clarification


          • DragonRapide
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Jun 2007
            • 1005

            65 Sqn Meteor (assume F8) Duxford mid-50s.

            I have seen nothing in writing about this but the story is fairly well known at Duxford.

            I also used to know a chap (now passed away) who was working on the next aircraft in the hangar (Building 78 - now Hangar 5) who verified the story. Two blokes were trying to lift the seat up and out of the Meteor cockpit but were struggling. One decided to stand on the canopy rails over the seat to lift upwards - which is when it fired. I was told that every bone in the victim's body was broken, and one of the trusses of the GS shed was lifted out of position.

            I was told that his colleagues carved a cross into the concrete floor of the hangar, which does exist - supporting this anecdotal evidence. Actually, there are two crosses on the floor of Building 78, which makes you wonder what else has happened in there over the long Service career of RAF Duxford!
            Listening out for something interesting approaching...


            • Chris Royle
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Aug 2011
              • 40

              Accident not whilst servicing, but post display flight.
              I witnessed a terrible accident in 1975 at RNAS Yeovilton Air Show involving post display shut down of RAF Harrier. Whilst disembarking, the pilot is believed to have caught his foot in seat handle which then fired with fatal results. He had omitted to re-fit the safety pins. IIRC the accident report stated that this oversight was probably due to "post event euphoria" (or very similar wording).


              • Deryck
                Ex RAF EMT.
                • Jan 2006
                • 227

                Meteor Mk8 at the ASF Hanger, Waterbeach, in 1954 or 55.

                The Meatbox was coming in for servicing and it was parked between the ASF hangar and the Clothing Stores, the riggers had removed the canopy and the Armourer was standing in the seat working on disarming the top cartridge. For some reason the cartridge fired and the seat came up and hit him in the face.

                The armourer should have safety pinned the top cartridge and removed the second charge in the back of the seat before attempting to remove the top cartridge, but he had not and the seat went through the full ejection cycle sending him high in the air, the seat landed on the roof of the Clothing Stores and the armourer fell and hit the horizontal tailplane of the Meteor.

                He survived, but he spent a long, long time in hospital but I do not know how long he was kept in. He was a National Serviceman who was coming to the end of his service when the incident happened. The RAF kept him in the service until he recovered.

                Why did it happen? Who knows? Was he distracted by his soon-to-be-discharge?

                As an engine mechanic we were told that the sequence for disarming the ejector seat was to insert the safety pin into the top firing mechanism and to always remove the mid-travel, large cartridge in the back of the seat, before attempting to remove the top cartridge firing mechanism.


                • Flanker_man
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Jan 2000
                  • 3674

                  Re the RNAS Yeovilton firing.... I used to work as a Civil Servant for the MoD and visited Martin Baker at Denham to collecvt some mag tapes for our computer system.

                  We were regaled with a few stories by our host - one of which involved a modification to the ejection seat firing handle - consisting of a canvas cover over one side of the firing handle so that you could put your fingers into the handle to pull it - but you could not put them all the way through.

                  This, we were told, was to prevent the pilot's leg restraint chord being threaded all the way through - which is what happened to the unfortunate pilot at Yeovilton.

                  As he stepped out of the cockpit, his leg restraint pulled the handle, with tragic results - at least that's what we were told.

                  We were also shown a mod to the drogue chute box involving a one-piece plastic/fibre cover to replace the canvas flap and pin used previously.

                  This was because a two-seat Jag had a bird strike at low level - which hit the rear of the canopy and took off the canvas cover - which released the drogue chute.

                  The pilot apparently made a safe landing - with the rear seater sitting on a useless ejection seat wrapped in billowing silk!

                  Then there was the story of when they lost the entire front end of a Grumman EA-6 Prowler on their rockert sled........

                  Flanker Freak & Russian Aviation Enthusiast.
                  Flankers (& others) website at :-


                  • paulmcmillan
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Jan 2000
                    • 2637

                    FLIGHT International, 18 September I97S

                    Ejection-seat accident
                    A Royal Air Force pilot was killed
                    on September 6 when his ejection seat
                    fired after a display at the Royal Naval
                    Air Station Yeovilton. The aircraft,
                    one of two Harriers from the Operational Conversion Unit at Wittering
                    which had given the display, had
                    landed and was stationary when the
                    accident occurred. Flight understands
                    that the seat, a Martin-Baker zerozero type, was actuated when the pilot
                    was partially out of the cockpit and
                    no longer connected to it.

                    The aircraft involved was either

                    XV804/45 Harrier GR.3 233 OCU
                    XW922/49 Harrier GR.3 233 OCU

                    This is the Armed Forces Memorial listing for the pilot involved.

                    According to Wings Over Somerset.
                    It says that he survived the initial event but died in hospital.



                    Flt Lt

                    Royal Air Force

                    Service Number

                    RAF Wittering

                    Date of Birth
                    06 March 1946


                    Date of Death
                    06 September 1975

                    Cemetery Name
                    All Saints Churchyard

                    Cemetery Address

                    Grave Row

                    Grave Number

                    Included on Armed Forces Memorial

                    Included on Roll of Honour
                    Weather - Fair with cloudy patches, clear by early evening.


                    • J Boyle
                      With malice towards none
                      • Oct 2004
                      • 9733

                      Wasn't there a ground accident involving a Red Arrows aircraft a few years back?
                      There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.


                      • Hooligan
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Mar 2017
                        • 434

                        Embraer Tucano had an ejection seat accident at the Paris Air Show - as I recall a mechanic who died was standing on the seat when it was triggered.


                        • Kenbo
                          Professional plot loser..
                          • Nov 2005
                          • 265

                          Originally posted by J Boyle View Post
                          Wasn't there a ground accident involving a Red Arrows aircraft a few years back?
                          IIRC The pilot was stationary at the threshold going through his pre-flight checks when the seat inexplicably fired, if memory serves nothing deployed and seat didn't separate from the pilot with fatal results...
                          This week i av' been mostly eatin' biscuits!


                          • David Burke
                            Rank 5 Registered User
                            • Jan 2000
                            • 10020

                            The seat didn't fire on its own. The report is online.


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