Below is a story about Capt. Jon Counsell; he holds the record for the highest-speed survived ejection in the USAF. US ejection seats aren't designed to be used above M.9 or so, but the Soviets have a system that is. After the Cold War ended, the US was contemplating the purchase of this system, but never did, for reasons unknown to myself. Some of the ACES seats used by the US have handles at the top of the seat, these are designed to deploy a screen over the pilots face for protection, but the rest of the body is exposed. In the Soviet system, a metallic screen deployed from the base of the seat protecting the pilot’s entire body.
E- acft (E-3, E-4, P-3, EP-3) carry parachutes, and the speed is dependent upon the bailout location, on the AWACS and E-3's you have to use a fwd hatch, so around 200 KCAS is used to prevent impacting the acft. On airlifters, (C-130, 141, 5) 'chutes aren't normally carried except on special missions, and the same rule applies if using an fwd door. For the aft area (cargo / troop) doors, there is no speed restriction.
On props, the speed was around 350-400 KCAS or so, the problem was, you had to actually step outside on the wing, and roll down and off to keep from hitting the stab. There were a lot of casualties and injuries in WWII, and Korea from this.
By Senior Airman John Asselin
325th FW Public Affairs
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Leaping over hurdles in the face of adversity has paid off for an XXth Fighter Squadron captain.
Capt. Jon Counsell recently graduated from the Air Force F-15 operational training course, three-and-a-half years after ejecting from an F-15 at Mach 1.14 on his initial solo flight.
After the May 5, 1994, accident, caused by G-induced loss of consciousness, Counsell's chances of flying again seemed like a dream; his injuries left him with both his legs and one arm useless.
When he punched out, his right leg folded over his shoulder and three of the four ligaments in his right knee tore out. His left leg slid to the side and fractured in five places, then folded up and tore three ligaments in the knee. His left arm flew around the back of the seat, hitting the oxygen bottle and breaking the forearm, dislocating the arm and breaking part of the shoulder joint.
Counsell doesn't remember the actual ejection, but was conscious at the half-hour point in the water. "A helicopter hovered over and I was waving to them," he said. The helicopter had a hoist, but no rescue swimmers to help Counsell onto the hoist and he couldn't do it himself because of his injuries.
At the two-hour point, a Pave Low helicopter from the 20th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, arrived with rescue swimmers. "I was conscious and was talking to those guys," Counsell said. "I was complaining about my left leg hurting because it was a compound fracture. The salt water was pouring into it and it was stinging. The fact that my foot was pointing backwards didn't help either."
He had no idea how serious his injuries were when he was in the water. "I was telling the PJs (pararescue members) I was concerned because I couldn't see," he said. "My face was huge, round and flat and my eyes had swollen shut because of the wind blast."
His helmet and oxygen mask immediately blew off after ejecting. "If it hadn't, I would have probably drowned because I doubt I would have had the initial sense to get everything unhooked," he added.
Counsell remained conscious until he went into emergency surgery at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. He was in the water for a total of two-and-one-half hours.
It took two years just to mend the broken bones -- 11 months to heal the broken leg while undergoing three surgical procedures, Counsell said. It took another year to fix the knees. "From the time we got done with the knees," he said, "it took two and a half years when they said I was fixed enough to start working on the waivers to return to fly."
The two-and-a-half years were not easy, he said.
"I was told I may not walk again, but my attitude was I wanted to fly the Eagle," he added. "You need to find a group of people who support you and believe in the things that you do. Set your goals, and set them as high as you want, and find people who will support you through the goals."
In November 1996 Counsell got the waiver and by February he was back flying. "Through anything that applies to life, there are going to be some setbacks; you go and talk to friends or chaplains, or whoever you need for your support group, and realize it's going to be better," he said.
"That's how it was for me. I'd have a bad day and then hit another high. It was small goals. I went from no longer being in a wheel chair to not walking with crutches. From almost being able to run to snow skiing like I used to. Now I'm back in an airplane -- now I'm flying Eagles. The big thing is always keep focused." (Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command News Service)
"Never trust a clean Crew Chief"