10 Spectacular Aircraft Ejections

Image by Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

Image by Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

They say any landing you walk away from is a good one.  But does the same thing go for ejecting?  In this amazing sequence of footage we see aircraft colliding with one another, overshooting aircraft carrier runways and simply breaking apart in mid-air – with the pilots at the controls “banging out” out at the last possible second.

F-16 Fighting Falcon

The amazing image (top) was captured in 2003 at the exact moment that Thunderbirds pilot Captain Chris Stricklin made his timely exit from the doomed jet.  This video takes you through the sequence of events culminating in the ejection, including amazing cockpit footage as the pilot bangs out.

Harrier Jump Jet

It is not everyday that bathers are treated to an offshore display by a Harrier jump-jet.  It is even less common that, during such a display, the Harrier should suddenly lose its lift in the hover and plunge into the sea.  Luckily the pilot didn’t have too far to go to reach dry land!

F-117 Stealth Fighter

For years the F-117 Stealth Fighter, known as the Nighthawk, existed in the shadowy world of top secret military aircraft programs.  But this clip shows the moment when aviation legend becomes stark reality – in a rather destructive manner.  As the stricken jet tumbles out of the sky, an airshow commentator calmly says: “Everyone just stay where you are and watch the rest of the show.  We have a couple more things coming up here shortly so you may want to get a bite to eat and something to drink…”  Meanwhile, one family near the base was  enjoying a barbecue in the garden, when their house was suddenly demolished and replaced by the wreck of a Stealth Fighter.  The pilot landed safely on the driveway, and remarkably nobody was hurt – although he probably wasn’t a very popular man!

Mig 29 Fulcrum

The Russians have ejected on several occasions in front of airshow crowds and have thus developed some of the most impressive ejection seats in the world – as this video goes to show!  Thankfully – despite his parachute opening immediately before hitting the ground – this intrepid flyer lived to tell the tale of how one of our little feathered friends reportedly brought down one of the world’s finest fighter planes.

Mig 29 Collision

In this incredible scene, Russian display pilots collide during a close pass at the Fairford International Air Tattoo in England.  As the planes close in on one another, the wing of one slices through the back of the other.  Both pilots eject as the Mig 29’s fall out of the sky.  Incredibly, no one was seriously hurt.  The only alleged injury was a broken nose when one pilot punched the other back on terra firma.

A-10 Thunderbolt Slow Motion Ejection

This ejection sequence happens in slow motion right in front of the camera.  The reason behind the crash is unclear although the perfect timing of camera and ejection probably means the event was a test.  And a rather expensive one too, judging by how many pieces the A-10 breaks into when it slams into the desert floor!

A-6 Intruder

The image quality of this video isn’t great but it’s worth a mention nevertheless.  This is one of those rare occasions when a plane landing on a carrier can’t stop in time and lethargically lunges off the end.  In accordance with carrier landing procedure, the pilots apply full throttle when the aircraft touches down to ensure that, in the event of the arrester hook missing the cable, they have enough power to get airborne again.  With the aircraft plummeting towards the sea, both pilots eject.  But what sets this clip apart is that rather than simply plunging into the ocean, the Intruder climbs away happily on full power with nobody at the controls…

SU-33 Flanker

This was an unfortunate of case of a broken arrester cable on this Russian aircraft carrier.  There was nothing the pilot could have done to avoid this accident, but thankfully his reactions were more reliable than the ship’s arrester cable.

A-7 Corsair

Whoops!  And now a particularly unfortunate one…  This poor A-7 Corsair hadn’t even got airborne before a total hydraulic failure while taxiing across the deck of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson saw the plane topple over the side.  Thankfully the fast reactions of the pilot saved man if not machine.

F-16 Thunderbird

This is the same ejection as the first video in this article, but showing the event from outside the plane rather than the cockpit.  The pilot can barely be seen ejecting just a second before the F-16 crashes into the runway in a ball of flames.  Thankfully, he lived to tell the tale – and get banned from the display team in the process…



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