CAP2008
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Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 12:57 am

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?
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PhilSquares
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 1:32 am



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.
Fly fast, live slow
 
bingo
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 1:36 am

Do it more than once and it may shorten your career as a pilot...(unless your John McCain) Big grin
 
Curt22
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 1:54 am



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!)
 
MissedApproach
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 2:01 am

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?
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WarRI1
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 2:03 am



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.
 
Transpac787
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 2:47 am

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.
 
bhmbaglock
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 2:54 am

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.
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TedTAce
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 3:04 am



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.
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MedAv
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 3:31 am

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
 
DeltaGuy
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 3:42 am

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
"The cockpit, what is it?" "It's the little room in the front of the plane where the pilot sits, but that's not importan
 
TedTAce
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 4:50 am



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

24+ years I'm sure he's very thankful for none-the-less  Wink
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GPHOTO
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 5:53 am



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
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ferrypilot
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Tue May 13, 2008 11:42 pm

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.
 
pwm2txlhopper
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Wed May 14, 2008 3:34 am

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]
 
Transpac787
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Wed May 14, 2008 4:45 am



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!!
 
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Loran
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Fri May 16, 2008 8:03 am

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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SlamClick
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Sat May 17, 2008 4:01 pm

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.
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gsosbee
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RE: Does Ejecting Make You Shorter?

Sat May 17, 2008 6:51 pm



Quoting SlamClick (Reply 17):
Damn gravity

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