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Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?  
User currently offlineCAP2008 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 255 posts, RR: 2
Posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 20410 times:

I heard that due to the tremendous forces exerted on the body during ejection (from a fighter or similar military aircraft), that the spine is compressed to make the pilot a few inches shorter.

I was wondering if anyone out there has ejected or knows someone who has ejected and survived, and cares to share their story (and if they came out shorter).

Also, I was wondering what types of military aircraft are fitted with ejection seats. I know that most to all fighters are, but what about other types and transports such as C-17's, KC-135's, B-52's, C-130's? What about helicopters?


The mother of the last KC-135 pilot has yet to be born.
18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinePhilSquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 20401 times:



Quoting CAP2008 (Thread starter):
I know that most to all fighters are, but what about other types and transports such as C-17's, KC-135's, B-52's, C-130's? What about helicopters?

Check your facts, the B-52, is not a transport but a Bomber. And, yes it has ejection seats. None of the ohter aircraft you have listed have ejection seats. IIRC only the Kamov Ka 50/52 has an ejection system.


User currently offlineBingo From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 359 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 20397 times:

Do it more than once and it may shorten your career as a pilot...(unless your John McCain) Big grin

User currently offlineCurt22 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 335 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 20383 times:



Quoting CAP2008 (Thread starter):
I was wondering if anyone out there has ejected or knows someone who has ejected and survived, and cares to share their story (and if they came out shorter

Does it make your what shorter? (Man I crack myself up!)


User currently offlineMissedApproach From Canada, joined Oct 2004, 713 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 20376 times:

All the US bombers have ejection seats for normal crews. On training missions where extra crew (instructors) occupy jumpseats, they have parachutes & must use a bailout method.
If you check on the British V-Bombers, some of them had interesting setups. For instance, in the Vulcan, the captain & first officer had ejection seats, while the bombardier & DSO did not. Where they expendable or something?



Can you hear me now?
User currently offlineWarRI1 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 8892 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 20375 times:



Quoting CAP2008 (Thread starter):

I watched a special about US Navy Aviators taking off from a carrier and they had to eject at less then deck height, the force of the pilot and his weapons officer hitting the water so hard compressed their spines a considerable amount, I know they considered that a small price to pay to survive It was caught on film and they were lucky. I would think a kick like that would do something even without hitting the water.



It is better to die on your feet, than live on your knees.
User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 6, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 20362 times:

One of my dad's best buddies in the Navy was a Mig killer in Vietnam in the F-4, and had quite the ejection story. Needless to say after the incident he never flew in the military again, but his exact battle-damaged F-4 is mounted on a pole in Pensacola.

Anyhow, this isn't my story, but I'll still tell it as best as I can.

So, they were on a mission over Vietnam, doing air-to-air or some such, I forget the what he said the mission was. On the way home, the Viets launched some SAM's at them, one of which partially got them. Shrapnel from the warhead tore threw the cockpit and tore up his arm pretty good. The plane was still flying..... well, slowly crashing. So, they had to eject but with his torn up arm he couldn't reach the overhead ejection handle. So, he raised the whole uninjured side of his body, so he could get his good arm high enough to grab the overhead ejection handle. Only in retrospect, this was a huge mistake. In lifting his body, his leg was raised only a few inches off the ejection seat.

When he pulled the ejection handle, the seat got a few inches running start at his leg, enough so that it shattered his femur clear in half. The VC caught him pretty quick, at which point his leg was briefly looked at. Of course he received no medical attention, and had maggots and all sorts of parasites going wild in the open wounds (shivers...)

Now, after several years in the Hanoi Hilton, he finally got sent back to the States, where doctors got to finally look at his injuries from the ejection several years prior. After taking an xray, they found the femur had reset itself..... but without a cast, the bone had set itself with a 2-inch overlap. The Navy surgeons decided the best (and really only) possible solution was to surgically removed the two inch overlap, as well as two inches from the other leg.

Where this is going is..... my dad's buddy went to Vietnam at 6'1". He came home 5'11". And to think all that happened after the ejection seat got only a few inches running start at his leg.

The same pilot though, his exact F-4 from a Mig-killing dogfight is mounted on a pole in Pensacola. Apparently the plane was so badly damaged it would never fly again, and was a miracle it ever made it back to the ship. So now it's a living museum down in PNS somewhere.


User currently offlineBHMBAGLOCK From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 2698 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 20354 times:

Nothing scientific, but I know a guy with two A-6 ejections and he says it cost him a bit more than 1/2".

Quoting Curt22 (Reply 3):
Does it make your what shorter? (Man I crack myself up!)

That would be height, not uh, never mind.



Where are all of my respected members going?
User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 20345 times:



Quoting CAP2008 (Thread starter):
few inches

A few inches might be MUCH. But there is PLENTY of anecdotal evidence that spinal compression will reduce the height of an ejecting aviator.


User currently offlineMedAv From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 80 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 20333 times:

Not sure about height loss, probably not that much. Here's a Pubmed search for journal articles on ejection related injuries including spinal compression injuries.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/en...=ejection+spinal+compression&go=Go

btw, FYI, every evening you are a little shorter from walking around anall day long, presumably upright, and undergoing spinal compression. Your spinal column recovers during the night though  Smile


User currently offlineDeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 20328 times:

My dad lost a half inch after his A-7 ejection....also messed up his shoulder pretty badly, still has issues with it 24+ yrs after the fact.

DeltaGuy


User currently offlineTedTAce From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 20310 times:



Quoting DeltaGuy (Reply 10):
24+ yrs after the fact.

24+ years I'm sure he's very thankful for none-the-less  Wink


User currently offlineGPHOTO From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 829 posts, RR: 25
Reply 12, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 20295 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
DATABASE EDITOR



Quoting MissedApproach (Reply 4):
If you check on the British V-Bombers, some of them had interesting setups. For instance, in the Vulcan, the captain & first officer had ejection seats, while the bombardier & DSO did not. Where they expendable or something?

The missions for these aircraft were always expected to be conducted at high level, so in theory, the rear crew would have time to bail out if anything went wrong. Therefore the cost and weight of ejection seats could be saved.

Not much use if something happened in the take-off or landing phase, no time or height for the crew to bail out. Also, even at higher levels, the doomed aircraft could end up in a position where the G forces were too high for the rear crew to be able to get out of their seats let alone make it to the exit door. Needless to say, over the career of the V-Bombers a number of back seat crew payed the ultimate price, while the front seaters survived.

A system was retrospectively designed to fit ejection seats for the rear crew, but due to the cost and complexity involved, it was never put into service.

Best regards,

Jim



Erm, is this thing on?
User currently offlineFerrypilot From New Zealand, joined Sep 2006, 897 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 20089 times:

I used to fly with a chap who had ejected twice. ...From memory he was still a good deal taller than me at a shade under 6 feet.

User currently offlinePWM2TXLHopper From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1328 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 20050 times:

Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 6):
The same pilot though, his exact F-4 from a Mig-killing dogfight is mounted on a pole in Pensacola. Apparently the plane was so badly damaged it would never fly again, and was a miracle it ever made it back to the ship. So now it's a living museum down in PNS somewhere.

I'm confused? If the pilot ejected, the plane obviously crashed? In that case, how was there anything left intact of the aircraft to mount in Pensacola? There's not generally much left that resembles an aircraft when a jet goes down.

[Edited 2008-05-13 20:35:17]

User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 15, posted (6 years 4 months 1 week 3 hours ago) and read 20035 times:



Quoting PWM2TXLHopper (Reply 14):
I'm confused? If the pilot ejected, the plane obviously crashed? In that case, how was there anything left intact of the aircraft to mount in Pensacola? There's not generally much left that resembles an aircraft when a jet goes down.

Sorry, I realized after posting I worded it poorly.

The plane mounted in Pensacola was many flights before the one he was shot down. They were shot several times that flight too, and the rocket fuel in one of the missiles began to burn and actually fused the missile to the fuselage.... which is also still fused onto the plane in PNS.

The plane he was shot down in there was nothing left of. Sorry for the confusion!!


User currently offlineLoran From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 538 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (6 years 4 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 19859 times:

The numbers I picked up from a LH Captain are that a Panavia Tornado ejection will make you 1cm shorter. After ejecting twice in the Luftwaffe, your career is over due to medical reasons. Not sure to how many pilots that happened though...

A few inches sounds a bit too much to me, but no matter how much it is, it is surely not healty. Im quite tall (1,92m), and I sometimes have up to 1cm difference in height between morning and evening  Smile



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User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 17, posted (6 years 4 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 19751 times:

Not quite as much as riding it down makes you shorter.

I know many people with one or more ejections. I don't know about 'shorter' but it does seem somewhat likely, but two come to mind. One friend had ejected one time from an A-4 and had back pain problems from it, another had ejected twice from B-57s and had no problems at all. Another acquaintance - one from an F-86 and one from an experimental aircraft and no reported problems.

I am probably an inch or more shorter than when I started my career. Damn gravity.



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineGsosbee From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 825 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (6 years 4 months 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 19730 times:



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 17):
Damn gravity

 checkmark 


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