A 64-year-old French pensioner was recently forced to fly a fighter jet to celebrate his retirement. The man was so nervous that he reached out during the flight and accidentally ejected in the middle of the flight, report from IFL Science reveals.
Fortunately, the parachute attached to his ejection suit carried him safely to the ground from a height of about 2,500 feet, and he now lives to tell a warning story of epic proportions.
From the pan, into the fire
The incident, which occurred on March 20, 2019, occurred after an unnamed retiree received a retirement gift with experience in a fighter jet aboard a two-seater Rafale-B fighter of the French Air Force at Saint-Dizier 113 air base in eastern France. Reports say the man was not an avid pilot and reluctantly entered the fighter after his colleagues paid a significant sum for the experience. He did not know that he would soon take off from the cockpit.
Fortunately, both he and the pilot landed safely. According to An accident report in French, reported of from CNN at the time, the man had previously been reluctant to fly a fighter jet and was told about the flight experience as a surprise gift that day. Investigators of the incident also said that a watch worn by the pensioner, which could measure heart rate, showed that “the man’s heart was in complete tachycardia” before the flight, reaching a range between 136 and 142 beats per minute.
When the plane was 2,500 feet above the ground, the pilot began to climb, and the passenger panicked and grabbed something to hold on to. Unfortunately, he didn’t immediately realize that he had reached out and grabbed the eject button. He, of course, realized only seconds later when his seat popped out of the fighter at great speed. The report of the incident also states that the French pensioner did not attach his helmet properly and it flew into the distance.
The incident report cites peer pressure and poor preparation
Fortunately, the parachute in the pensioner’s ejection seat was activated successfully and the man was taken to hospital to be examined after landing. The pilot did not eject. He managed to land the plane safely, receiving only minor facial injuries during the test. The Rafale B, piloted by the pilot and the retiree, has a top speed of approximately 1,400 kilometers per hour (870 miles per hour).
The incident report concluded that peer pressure, as well as poor preparation, led to the incident, before which several safety rules were ignored. Usually, anyone undergoing such a flight will undergo a medical examination 10 days before departure. In this case, however, “the limits of the decision left to the passenger to possibly refuse the flight are perceived as almost non-existent,” the report said. The medical examination was performed on the same day on the basis of an agreement that the passenger would not be exposed to negative G forces. However, this was not reported to the pilot, which allowed him to feel a negative load factor of about -0.6G when the plane was leveled after an ascent, which caused him to reach out and take off from the plane.
So, do you know if you are going to surprise someone with a walk with adrenaline, it might be worth checking to see if they actually want to do it first, for the safety of all participants.