James Martin

Sir James Martin was born in Crossgar, County Down in 1893. He was a brilliant engineer in his teenage years, creating everything from a three-wheeled car to a fish fryer.

In 1929 he set up his own company in England to design and build planes.

In 1934 he founded the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company with his friend Captain Valentine Baker, a flight instructor who had served in World War One. With Captain Baker as his test pilot, they began working on aircraft for the Royal Air Force during World War Two.

Photograph of Sir James Martin

Sadly Captain Baker died in a crash while testing one of the planes and it had a big impact on James. He now focussed his efforts on improving pilot safety. Due to the number of accidents during World War Two, he was approached by the Ministry of Defence for help.

In 1944, Martin went on to develop the ejector-seat and by 1949 the ejector seats were being fitted in all British Military jet aircraft. To date, this invention has saved over 7,500 lives.

Bailing out at zero feet by Pathe News (1955).

Martin's legacy lives on

James was awarded two honorary doctorates and an OBE while also receiving a Knighthood. The company he founded, Martin-Baker, is being managed by his descendants to this day.

His contribution to aviation safety has been recognised globally and in 2004 he was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Other inventions by Martin

While James Martin is mostly recognised for his role in the invention of the ejector seat for aircrafts, he also invented bicycles with rain-proof hoods, tool sharpeners, fish fryers, three wheeled cars, machine gun ammunition feeds and quick-build trucks!