Man Who Never Wanted To Ride In a Fighter Jet Accidentally Ejects Himself

A 64-year-old man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was apprehensive when his co-workers surprised him with the retirement gift of a lifetime: a ride in a Dassault Rafale B jet fighter. While he never expressed an interest in flying in a jet and had no military flight experience, he went along with the plan. Before he even got into the plane, his watch’s heart monitor was recording his pulse at 140 bpm — a normal resting heartbeat is 60-100 bpm. Feeling “social pressure,” the man climbed into the rear of the plane’s two seats. Apparently, safety checks were lax and he was allowed to adjust his own gear. His helmet strap was unfastened, his oxygen mask unattached, his visor was up, and his seat harness was loose. Upon takeoff, the pilot and passenger were subjected to 4Gs. Leveling off around 2,500 feet, that dropped to a negative 0.6Gs, a feeling of weightlessness. At that point, the insufficiently restrained man grabbed for the nearest handle, which turned out to activate the ejector seat. The rear canopy was shattered by explosives and the man and the seat to which he was loosely strapped were flung out of the jet. During the ejection, he lost his helmet and oxygen mask. A parachute deployed and the man fell to earth, landing in a field near the German border. He sustained minor injuries and was taken to a hospital. If the ejection process had gone as intended, the pilot, too, would have been launched from the jet, but because of a technical malfunction his seat remained in the plane and was able to return to the air base and land safely. He suffered minor cuts to his face. Investigators concluded that the error was caused by the passenger’s involuntary reflex, prompted by stress and the jet’s sudden movement.