French Fighter Jet Joy Ride Goes Très, Très Wrong


Summary generated on August 11, 2020

    A French defense-industry employee about to retire was gifted something he was extremely reluctant to accept: a ride in a Dassault fighter jet.

    Next thing you know, the French Investigation Bureau for State Aviation Safety is issuing a report explaining how Monsieur Newbie came to experience not only the Dassault, but also its Martin-Baker MK16 ejection seat.

    His g-suit pants weren't on correctly, his seat harness wasn't tight, and his helmet-and oxygen mask-were unbuckled as the plane taxied to the runway at Saint-Dizier 113 air base.

    The fighter pilot, being a fighter pilot, probably thought he was taking it easy as he pulled into a 47-degree climb and generated a 3.7-g load. On the climb, both pilot and passenger were crushed down into the seat.

    Apparently the quick and dirty safety briefing failed to properly emphasize the fact that the black-and-yellow striped loop in the middle of the seat, between his legs, was not a grab handle but the trigger for the ejection seat.

    The good doctor's g-load recommendations were surely exceeded as pyrotechnics blasted a hole in the canopy and rocket motors fired the seat and its terrified denizen out into the slipstream high above the French countryside.

    In a growing cascade of colossal fails, the next one was actually fortuitous: the pilot's own ejection seat malfunctioned.

    The first ejection damaged the front seat, such that it didn't eject, and the pilot was actually able to land his now al fresco fighter jet.

    At which point the pilot beat feet away from the aircraft, for fear that the dud seat would, like so many flights, take off late.

    Because, as the report notes, he didn't want to ride in a fighter jet in the first place.