Primary History

British History: Ejection Seat

  • The Ejection Seat

    This ejection seat was invented by James Martin, who was born in Crossgar, Co. Down. In 1934 he founded the Martin-Baker aircraft manufacturing company with his friend Captain Valentine Baker.

    During World War 2 the firm was approached by the Ministry of Defence and asked to investigate ejection systems for high-speed fighter aircraft. In military aircraft an ejection seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency, by ejecting them out of the aircraft. (Before this, the only means of escape from a damaged aircraft was to jump clear.)

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  • Explosive charge

    James Martin discovered that the most effective means of ejection was by an explosive charge that forced the pilot's seat up into the air. Following an intensive period of testing and research his ejection seat went into production in the late 1940s. The first life saved was that of test pilot John Lancaster, in 1949. Since then over 70,000 seats have been supplied and over 7,000 lives saved.

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