Source - As far as retirement gifts go, a ride in a £70 million fighter jet is up there as one of the most memorable. Especially if you pull the ejector seat part-way through the flight.
That is exactly what happened to a 64-year-old Frenchman who was sent up in a Rafale-B at an airbase in Saint-Dizier, north western France, despite the fact he had ‘never expressed a desire to take part in a flight like this’, according to an incident report.
As the plane started a sudden and rapid ascent, he gripped on for dear life… to the ejector seat lever.
At 2,500ft, he shot out of the top of the plane at high speed, losing his helmet in the process, before landing with minor injuries in a field near the German border. A report by the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis, in Paris, also found that it was only by good fortune that the pilot had not also been ejected as a result. ...
The report said: ‘This situation generated a feeling of stress for the passenger, and this was particularly felt during the ejection seat briefing where he had to assimilate a large amount of information in a very short time.'
Far be it for me to question the veracity of an official report by the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis, but I'm calling bullshit on this one. I'm not buying that this old Frenchman panicked or pulled that lever because he was stressed out or didn't process the information he was given. I'm saying he pulled it because it's the most badass experience a retiree will ever have in this lifetime.
Do the math. What's the only thing that could be cooler than zizzing through the skies in a high tech death machine worth 60 million US dollars? Ejecting out of one, that's what. Anyone with with money or a family willing to cough up the money can sit there like cargo, do nothing and enjoy the ride. This buzzard figured out the one thing he can actively do and he did it. And in doing so had an experience few people will ever enjoy.
Even if the pilot got ejected, he would've survived. And this old tourist would get to be one of only handful of people on the planet who gets to brag about crashing a military jet. That's invaluable. It'd have the ladies Depends hitting the floor all over the senior center when he tells the tale.
And besides, I'm sure deep down every jet pilot has looked at that lever and wondered what it would feel like to do the "We've got a flame out, Mav!" "Not good! Not good!" "Eject! Eject!" thing at least once or twice.
Well now this guy gets to do it. Nobody was hurt. No damage done. No harm, no foul.
So congrats to this Franco Goose for having the experience of a lifetime. I don't feel sorry for the man, I envy him.