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16 October 2014
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Inventors - Sir James Martin

The ejector seat was invented in 1945 by Sir James Martin, who was born at Crossgar, Co Down, in 1893.

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Inventors - Sir James Martin

Artist's drawing of an ejection from an aircraft
Ejecting from a stricken aircraft

A brilliant engineer, in 1924, aged only 29, he set up the Martin Baker Aircraft Company in England along with his friend, Captain Valentine Baker. The idea for the ejector seat came after Baker died in an accident whilst testing one of the Martin Baker aircraft. By the time of his death in 1981, Sir James Martin's invention was in use worldwide and had already saved 4,700 lives.

Your Responses

Dale Heenan - June '08
I'm looking for relatives of Martin who had a daughter who married into the Thompson family and had a daughter Matilda who married John?

John McCallum - March '06
In 1953 Jimmie Martin agreed to allow me to use his airraft, a Gloucester Meteor to makles an attempt at the world record for the delayed parachute jump, then held by he Russian, P.A. Storchienko. His record was 10,000 meters. Using the meteor, I ould easily exceed Storchienko's record because the meteor copuld eject me at 45,000 feet. If I had a free fall of 41,000 feet, I would have had the record, which had to be 10% more than the preceding record.

After working for ten months in Farnborough, with Dumbo Willans as my coach, Martin decided to wqithdraw the use of his aircraft. The reason? His insurance company would not cover me. We knew that from the outset and I agreed to sign a waver freeing him of liability.
In very brief, that was it. Better o have loved and lost? I don't know.

Forty PSI writes: Whilst Martin-Baker have developed the ejection seat to the pinnacle it is currently at, for very much the reasons already stated, it is generally accepted that the invention itself came from the Swedish and the Germans. The Germans even had operational aircraft in WW2 with the seats fitted and several were used by pilots to save their lives.

To be fair though James Martin's work was done in ignorance of the work going on elsewhere hence the invention itself is commonly attributed to him.

Get a copy of his biography by Sarah Sharman for a very interesting story.

This is all predated though by a RAF pilots concept in the 1930's to escape from an aircraft using a seat with large springs.



Joe Roberts - Jan '07
Isn't it true that the ejector seat was invented at Heinkel in Germany before Martin Baker?


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