Imagine you have your co-workers tell you they have a great gift for you – only you find out when you arrive that it is a ride in a fighter jet. And that is something you never had wanted! What happens when panic sets in?
Fighter Jet Joy Ride Ends With Ejection
This is what happened to a 64-year-old man in France who was taken to the Saint-Dizier base for his special gift. The present? It was a flight in a Dassault Rafale B fighter jet. This event took place over a year ago but is making the news rounds now that the official report has been released. It had been arranged with the military authorities by the company management.
Now, I would have been pretty thrilled with that for sure but not everyone is! According to the investigative report (by the French government), the man (who was left unnamed) had a smartwatch on that indicated his heart rate was between 136 – 142 beats per minute – before he even took flight. According to the report, this was his first time on any plane except an airliner.
So, when the fighter jet (which is capable of flying up to 870 miles per hour) took off with two other planes in a training exercise, the man became very nervous and grabbed near the base of his seat. One of his hands grabbed the ejection control. With that, the canopy of the jet blew off and he was ejected while the jet was at 2,500 feet elevation.
Here is what the report says (translated to English from French):
Failures Along the Way
According to the report via this site, the ejection system actually didn’t work like it was supposed to. Upon triggering the ejection from the passenger seat, it was to blow the passenger canopy followed by ejecting the passenger and then the system would have done the same for the pilot’s canopy and seat.
Apparently, the system malfunctioned at the fourth step by not ejecting the pilot. That was a very fortunate malfunction as otherwise the plane would have been left to crash. Instead, the pilot was able to land it safely with only minor injuries from the canopy’s detonation. The passenger was also ok and transported to the hospital after.
Also according to the report (as written about here again), there were many steps that had been skipped. The passenger had been checked by a doctor four hours ahead of the flight and the doctor determined that he should not have a “negative load factor” during the flight. The pilot never received this information (and the passenger was submitted to a negative load factor of -0.6G after the flight leveled off).
Not only that, the passenger ended up being responsible for many of the steps before take-off – something that contributed to him losing his helmet at the point of ejection and not having all his equipment properly secured.
Would you have been excited with a gift like this or no?
Featured image courtesy of Tim Felce (Airwolfhound) – Rafale – RIAT 2009, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27816011