It probably is best not to fiddle with switches or controls when riding in the back seat of an air force fighter plane.
A man who failed to obey that principle found himself hurtling out of the cockpit, smashing through the Perspex canopy and into space after grabbing the black- and yellow-striped handle between his legs. He had inadvertently pulled the eject lever and found himself blasted 100 metres into the sky on his rocket-powered seat…
“Much of the information has yet to be tested, but it is confirmed that a civilian passenger unintentionally ejected from a Silver Falcons Pilatus PC-7 Mk II Astra during a general flying sortie out of Langebaanweg air force base this week,” a South African air force spokesman said. “The passenger was recovered [by helicopter] unharmed, and returned to Langebaanweg. The aircraft landed safely…”
A retired SAAF instructor pilot said the passenger was extremely lucky to have survived the ejection with barely a scratch…
He discounted the possibility that the seat fired of its own accord, as too many safety features were built into the system.
“All it takes is for the firing handle [the rubbery black- and yellow-striped loop] to be pulled up about 2.5cm and you’re on your way out.”