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Story of a life saver

Updated: Jul 31

Eject! Eject!

Author: John Nichol

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-3985-0940-5

Cover price: £20.00

Many years ago the reviewer was privileged to spend a day at the Martin Baker factory to view the research, development and manufacture of their ejector seats. The company was in the midst of a programme for the seats destined for the F14 for the US Navy and it was fascinating to see the sophistication of a modern ejector seat.

As I entered the factory there was a large sign that announced the number of lives saved by the seats to date, and it struck me then just what this must mean to those working there. Of course, for those included in the total there is an even deeper meaning, and John Nichol has captured much of that in his fascinating book. He speaks from experience, having ejected from a Tornado aircraft with his pilot John Peters early in the Gulf War.

In the course of a book which is eminently readable, Nichols tells the incredible story of the ejector seat in a series of first-hand accounts from ejectees and their families. Nichols is quick to point out that he discovered that ejecting is not just about getting out of the aircraft. Ejection is the start of the journey to survive.

Ejection is not a gentle experience and, especially in the early days, ejectees often suffered injuries that would affect them for the rest of their lives – but the seat had saved their lives, helped them to survive and enabled them to return to their families.

By means of a series of these accounts the reader is taken through the history of ejection from the early days when, literally, the ejectee was fired from the aircraft and had to disconnect himself manually from the seat and then deploy his parachute to today’s modern seats that can take the decision to eject out of the pilot’s hands and eject him/her automatically if they are in danger and cannot act quickly enough.

Fuelled by his own ejection from a blazing jet, John Nichol takes the reader into what can only be described as epic experiences of ejection, escape and survival. One aviator is quoted as saying: “I thought the ejector seat was a rather dangerous, somewhat curious contraption. But that I would never need it...”

John Nichol’s book reveals the rest of that quotation in a readable way in a series of accounts related with the passion and style we have become used to from him.

The book is well illustrated and definitely lives up to the statement: “Because pulling the yellow-and-black ejection handle is just the start of the story” - and what a story it tells.

(John Nichol was Martin Baker ejectee number 6,089; to date (May 2023) according to the company's website Martin Baker seats have saved 7,694 lives around the world.


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