keta
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Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 12:49 am

I was wondering, imagine that a plane is flying at, say, Mach 2 and for whatever reason (missile, etc.), the pilot has to eject. Would the pilot be able to survive? The forces and sudden deceleration would be enormous, I guess.

The question is not meant to be for Mach 2 specifically. The question is, is there a limit speed where a pilot can eject safely?
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Staffan
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 1:00 am

I don't consider an ejection safe regardless of what speed it is carried out at. Since ejection is a last resort to stop the pilot from meeting the same faith as the aircraft when shit hits the fan what good would an upper speed limit do? No doubt that chances of survival at M2.0 are smaller than at M0.8, but what are the options?
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:12 am

Probably not, without an ejection capsule like most really fast aircraft had.

Check out some technical data through this site:
http://www.ejectionsite.com/acesii.htm

This question would probably get quicker, more pertinent responses in the Miltary/Space forum.

[Edited 2006-04-22 19:13:46]
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mikehobley
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:16 am

I think that there was an occasion on which a crew ejected from an SR-71 at around Mach 3 - think the pilot survived but the WSO didnt make it due to massive forces............
 
bhmbaglock
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:33 am

Martin-Baker are truly the world leaders in this at www.martin-baker.com.

Here are some interesting facts on ejection seats from their site:

Quote:
• Highest speed escapes using MBA ejection seat above 700 knots (800 mph) - Total 6
• Highest altitude escape using MBA ejection seat (both successful) British Canberra Bomber - 57,000 ft in 1958
• Highest number of successful ejections in one year - 494 in 1967
• Highest number of successful ejections in any one month - 63 in June 1967
• Highest number of successful ejections in any one day - 11 on 22nd November 1969
• Total number of lives saved with Mk10 seat as at May 2002 - 628
• Total number of NACES ejections - 39 (100%)
• Total number of ejection seats delivered - more than 70,000
• Total number of ejection seats currently in service - approximately 12,000
• 31% of the ejection seats in service are 25 years old and fully supported
• Countries operating MBA ejection seats - 80
• Countries operating Mk10/Mk10L ejection seats - 51
• Air Forces operating MBA ejection seats - 92
• Number of aircraft types fitted with Mk10 ejection seats - 46
• Aircraft types currently in service world-wide fitted with MBA ejection seats - 88

Here is something I found on the Ejection Site slamclick linked:

Quote:
1- What is the fastest ejection on record?

Although this seems to be an easy question, looks can be deceiving. 'How fast' is an imprecise question as it can be answered in several ways, for example: speed over ground, Knots Indicated Air Speed (KIAS), Knots Equivalent Air Speed (KEAS) and so forth. For example, some SR-71 pilots are rumored to have ejected at speeds of Mach 3 at 80,000 feet. This is a ground speed of around 2000 miles per hour, yet due to the thinner atmosphere at that altitude, the speed is closer to 400 KEAS. That is more like a 460 miles per hour. An F-15E pilot survived an ejection at a very small ground speed as he was traveling almost straight down in a spin, yet he was traveling at 780 MPH. This is over 1.6 times faster in equivalent air speed. Another difficulty with answering this question is determining the exact speed. Since most ejections occur in situations that are changing rapidly, it is difficult to get an exact speed of the ejection. Most ejection speeds are calculated values based on the recollections of the crewman, and what little evidence survives the aircraft's destruction. This can lead to very imprecise numbers. In the first known case of a man surviving a supersonic ejection, George Smith(IIRC will be verified) ejected from an F-100 Super Sabre in a dive. It was known that he ejected supersonically due to eyewitnesses who heard and saw the ejection from nearby based on the sounds of the sonic booms and the visual clues of the crash.
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WrenchBender
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:02 am

I would not count M-B as the 'best' in the world. Some of the most spectacular ejections have been from Russian a/c using Zvezda seats
http://www.zvezda-npp.ru/english/05.htm

WrenchBender
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Skyslave
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:35 am

A little off-topic, but my grandmother used to think the "recline your seat button" was a button to eject her out of the plane. The thought of an old, grey haired woman being rocketed out the top of an airliner still cracks me up.
 
RC135U
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 8:10 am

Quoting Mikehobley (Reply 3):
I think that there was an occasion on which a crew ejected from an SR-71 at around Mach 3 - think the pilot survived but the WSO didnt make it due to massive forces............

Actually the aircraft broke up at 80,000 ft and Mach 3 when the right engine experienced an "unstart" while in a 30 degree bank. The entire forebody of the aircraft became detached and the canopies were blown off by all the forces acting upon it, probably sucking out the two crew (the pilot's ejection seat was found in the wreckage). The full pressure suits provided a lot of blast and cold protection and both crew's 'chutes funtioned properly. I don't have access to what the WSO's fatal injuries were, and the pilot who did survive blacked out right at the breakup, regaining consciousness to find himself and his fellow crewman floating down under their main chutes.
 
474218
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 11:03 am

Quoting Mikehobley (Reply 3):
I think that there was an occasion on which a crew ejected from an SR-71 at around Mach 3 - think the pilot survived but the WSO didnt make it due to massive forces............

You are partially correct, the SR-71 broke up at Mach 3 and 78,000 feet. The pilot, Bill Weaver, was thrown out and survived and the Radar Systems Operator (RSO) was killed. The SR-71 carried no weapons so it did not need a Weapons System Operator (WSO).

You can read more about the incident at: http://www.wvi.com/~sr71webmaster/srloss~1.htm scroll down to 61-17952 SR-71A.
 
keta
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 6:07 pm

Quoting RC135U (Reply 7):
Actually the aircraft broke up at 80,000 ft and Mach 3 when the right engine experienced an "unstart" while in a 30 degree bank. The entire forebody of the aircraft became detached and the canopies were blown off by all the forces acting upon it, probably sucking out the two crew (the pilot's ejection seat was found in the wreckage). The full pressure suits provided a lot of blast and cold protection and both crew's 'chutes funtioned properly. I don't have access to what the WSO's fatal injuries were, and the pilot who did survive blacked out right at the breakup, regaining consciousness to find himself and his fellow crewman floating down under their main chutes.

Wow awesome! I thought a body would break up at Mach 3.

Quoting BHMBAGLOCK (Reply 4):
How fast' is an imprecise question as it can be answered in several ways, for example: speed over ground, Knots Indicated Air Speed (KIAS), Knots Equivalent Air Speed (KEAS) and so forth. For example, some SR-71 pilots are rumored to have ejected at speeds of Mach 3 at 80,000 feet. This is a ground speed of around 2000 miles per hour, yet due to the thinner atmosphere at that altitude, the speed is closer to 400 KEAS. That is more like a 460 miles per hour. An F-15E pilot survived an ejection at a very small ground speed as he was traveling almost straight down in a spin, yet he was traveling at 780 MPH.

That's interesting. What condition exerts more force, high mach number in thin air or high airspeed in thicker air? That would be which one creates more drag. Since it's D=0.5*ρ*S*CD*V^2 and both CD (I'd say) and V are much higher in high mach number (V true airspeed), I'd say more force is exerted in the high mach condition?
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Grbld
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:01 pm

Well that's just a load of baloney. Mach has NOTHING to do with groundspeed. So calculating groundspeed from your Mach number is a wrong calculation step. Mach 3 is Mach 3, and although Mach 3 at altitude is different in terms of airspeed compared to sea level, it's nowhere near 400 kts (it's higher).

Think of the Concorde that flies Mach 2 at FL700+. The machine gets so hot that it expands 3 feet. You'll remember the SR71 actually leaking fuel through it's body panels when it's on the ground. So aerodynamic forces are absolutely not comparable to a 400 knot airspeed.

One thing that is true, is that there's an enormous drag spike near M1. As you accelerate through it (which is the hardest part), you will find that drag goes down relatively. Imagine though after ejection that you will go through that huge drag spike as you're slowing down rapidly. You'll slow down the minute you hit the outside atmosphere, but deceleration will suddenly increase as you reach M1 from above. Probably very tough on the internal organs (which is also a major cause of death in car accidents, internal injuries caused by the rapid deceleration, all your organs being squashed against the front of your body).

[Edited 2006-04-23 15:02:15]

[Edited 2006-04-23 15:02:43]
 
BoeingOnFinal
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Mon Apr 24, 2006 7:43 am

I saw a show on Discovery Channel about people seeking mach 1, and one fighter pilot told a story about how he had to eject about 6000 feet above the ground in a speed just above mach 1. He got his legs ripped to pieces found only hanging in the main artery when he was found in hes survival raft in the water. His head was the size of a basket ball, and several other bones was broken, also the arms. He said chances of survival when you eject at that speed was very slim.
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bhmbaglock
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Mon Apr 24, 2006 11:05 am

Quoting Keta (Reply 9):
That's interesting. What condition exerts more force, high mach number in thin air or high airspeed in thicker air? That would be which one creates more drag. Since it's D=0.5*ρ*S*CD*V^2 and both CD (I'd say) and V are much higher in high mach number (V true airspeed), I'd say more force is exerted in the high mach condition?

As indicated in the quote from my post, it's not so simple. Here's an example from Scaled Composites:

Quote:
While the first roll occurred at a high true speed, about 2.7 Mach, the aerodynamic loads were quite low (120 KEAS) and were decreasing rapidly, so the ship never saw any significant structural stresses.

FYI, here's the link to the full page: http://www.scaled.com/projects/tiero...Burt_clarifies_rolling_motions.htm

If you're wondering about exactly what the difference is between KIAS, KEAS, KTAS, KCAS, etc. are try this: http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Knot_(nautical)

Some of the better information will require clicking through another level deeper.

I also found an old Tech Ops thread with a bit of info here: True Airspeed, Groundspeed.....other Speeds... (by AA777 Aug 24 2004 in Tech Ops)

Quoting Grbld (Reply 10):
One thing that is true, is that there's an enormous drag spike near M1. As you accelerate through it (which is the hardest part), you will find that drag goes down relatively.

You're coming close to the real nut of the problem with a supersonic ejection. Even if you start with a high altitude, low density situation where the dynamic pressures are not too bad, your real problems occur after the ejection itself in the low supersonic/transonic speed range. You have to decelerate the human in such a way that both the human and the parachute can survive to subsonic speeds. Due to the great variety in altitude, density, pilot mass, velocity/mach number, etc. there is no simple cut and dried solution to the problem.

In the past, reliance on simple analog or primitive digital controllers really didn't make this much of a viable option. At this point we can certainly handle it technologically - the question is whether it's worth the weight penalties involved as well as some very expensive and potentially dangerous testing. You simply can't simulate this in a wind tunnel or using a rocket sled.

Quoting Grbld (Reply 10):
Think of the Concorde that flies Mach 2 at FL700+. The machine gets so hot that it expands 3 feet. You'll remember the SR71 actually leaking fuel through it's body panels when it's on the ground. So aerodynamic forces are absolutely not comparable to a 400 knot airspeed.

You're missing the fact that the SR-71 flys at altitudes considerably higher than even Concorde. It's really and truly on the edge of space. When the air is this thin, the aerodynamic forces really do decrease dramatically. Think about a shuttle launch. Max q occurs relatively low in the atmosphere at well below maximum velocity, even before the external tank is jettisoned.
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N766UA
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:15 pm

He can, but it ain't gunna be a smart move!  silly 
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N766UA
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Mon Apr 24, 2006 12:16 pm

And we've never lost a blackbird so I have no idea how anyone would believe that anyone's ever ejected from one, especially at mach 3.
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bhmbaglock
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Mon Apr 24, 2006 7:26 pm

Quoting N766UA (Reply 14):
And we've never lost a blackbird so I have no idea how anyone would believe that anyone's ever ejected from one, especially at mach 3.

http://www.check-six.com/Crash_Sites/SR-71_953_crash_site.htm for example with pictures.
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Grbld
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Mon Apr 24, 2006 7:27 pm

Quoting BHMBAGLOCK (Reply 12):
You're missing the fact that the SR-71 flys at altitudes considerably higher than even Concorde.

Didn't miss it, but there was talk on here about an ejection under 80,000 ft.

Quoting N766UA (Reply 14):
And we've never lost a blackbird so I have no idea how anyone would believe that anyone's ever ejected from one, especially at mach 3.

According to the links above, you've lost around 20.

A few of my retired airline colleagues used to fly the F104 Starfighter here (or as they say in Burbank, fighter-on-a-stick) and lost a couple of them after ejection because of the airplane starting uncontrollable dives. And right after they bolted, the airplane would level out at low altitude and continue flying until the fuel ran out. A couple of them apparently ended up in Scandinavia  Smile
Must be a curious sight when you're hanging there in the air and you see your plane taking off without you...

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N766UA
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:46 am

Quoting Grbld (Reply 16):
According to the links above, you've lost around 20.

Well I'll be damned. I believe, however, the vast majority of write-offs were involving test aircraft, many being the A-12.

[Edited 2006-04-24 19:48:40]
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474218
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Tue Apr 25, 2006 6:26 am

Quoting N766UA (Reply 17):
Well I'll be damned. I believe, however, the vast majority of write-offs were involving test aircraft, many being the A-12.

The following site provides a write up on each Blackbird loss.

http://www.sr-71.org/blackbird/losses.php

By the way the majority of the losses were of the SR-71A. Which makes sense because more of them were built and they flew the majority of the missions.
 
sprout5199
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 12:26 pm

Dont forget the navy? guy who jumped off a balloon at 100,000+ feet. IIRC he was the first person and maybe the only one to go supersonic(very little air= very little drag=high terminal velocity) with out an aircraft of any kind. He didnt have any problems at all. I remember seeing something on it on discovery channel a while back.

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waterpolodan
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 1:22 pm

This is a vaguely related question- Now that people are throwing up these SR71 links, I've been reading about that aircraft, and I've been wondering, is the sonic boom audible when the plane is flying at 85,000 feet? If it is at all, it probably sounds like distant thunder. Also, the record flight from LA to DC in 1 hour and 4 minutes just blew my mind. I have heard rumors that the plane could actually be pushed to mach 4 or above, any truth to that?
 
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NZ107
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 7:07 pm

One question I would ask is what direction do you eject in? If it's not powerful enough in a vertical line, the tail could come crashing through hitting you in the process. At roughly 500m/s, I doubt it would be able to clear it in the first place. Someone must have thought about this, surely.

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 19):
IIRC he was the first person and maybe the only one to go supersonic

I think that there would be some difference between free falling like that and ejecting from a speeding plane. The forces felt by the body when in free fall increase as the body nears terminal velocity. When ejecting, there will be a split second of the feel of going at some speed, ie half way through breaking the glass. The forces acting on the body (going at a certain speed then slowing down dramatically) must be greater overall.

Just my 2c IMO, anyone feel free to dispute it..
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HaveBlue
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Wed Apr 26, 2006 11:20 pm

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 21):
One question I would ask is what direction do you eject in? If it's not powerful enough in a vertical line, the tail could come crashing through hitting you in the process. At roughly 500m/s, I doubt it would be able to clear it in the first place. Someone must have thought about this, surely.

Well I do believe it is enough time to clear, even at Mach 2. The super fast acceleration of the ejection seat coupled with the fact that you also have that Mach 2 velocity as a starting point yourself. It does help, however, that these days that most fighters have twin tails so it wouldn't be an issue. And iirc the F-104 started out with a downward firing ejection seat, but was later changed to the standard configuration.

Quoting Waterpolodan (Reply 20):
I have heard rumors that the plane could actually be pushed to mach 4 or above, any truth to that?

I've heard those rumors too, and used to be an especially ardent believer in them myself. Though I would like to think it could do Mach 4+ I've read a lot since then that makes me think maybe that isn't so. And though Mach 3.2 maybe the operational limit, I'd love to know exactly how fast the test pilots got her up to. I find it amazing that even though the bird is retired, its specs are still classified until 2021. And 85,000' may have been an operational ceiling used for most flights, but I've seen 100,000' a lot in print and do believe that it is capable of that altitude.

[Edited 2006-04-26 16:24:38]
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vzlet
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:38 am

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 21):
At roughly 500m/s



Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 22):
even at Mach 2

My first thought was that it's more a question of IAS than actual velocity or Mach speed, but I don't know how much effect any shock waves that formed on the pilot/seat shape would have on immediate deceleration.

Quoting Waterpolodan (Reply 20):
is the sonic boom audible when the plane is flying at 85,000 feet

From living in Germany in the 1980s, I can tell you that an SR-71 on a typical mission routinely generates a distinctly audible boom (a quick double boom, actually).
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waterpolodan
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:21 am

Quoting Vzlet (Reply 23):
From living in Germany in the 1980s, I can tell you that an SR-71 on a typical mission routinely generates a distinctly audible boom (a quick double boom, actually).

Interesting, When the plane was flying overhead at that altitude could you see anything, maybe a tiny, faint contrail? 747s are hard enough to see at 35,000 ft, so I don't imagine anything more than the contrail would be visible of a blackbird at 80,000 ft...
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:39 am

Quoting Keta (Reply 9):
That's interesting. What condition exerts more force, high mach number in thin air or high airspeed in thicker air? That would be which one creates more drag

A little insight into this can be gained from a space shuttle launch. At one point, early in the climb (low twenties?) an engineer in the background will say into the loop: "Max-Q"

"Q" in this use means dynamic airload. It begins increasing as the vehicle acclerates off the launchpad. It increases with the vehicle speed but decreases with the thinning atmosphere. At some point (maybe someone can give us an approximate altitude and speed) the increasing curve meets the decreasing one. After that the airload decreases even though the mach number soon reaches double digits.
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texfly101
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Thu Apr 27, 2006 6:31 am

There's been a lot of work done on high speed ejections. NASA Dryden and the old Research Section at Wright Pat ran experiments during the 50's to try and figure out what, why, how, etc. Joe Kittinger bailed out of the ballon at 102,800 feet and reached a top speed of 614 mph (approx Mach 1 at the altitude he was at that moment, not 102,800) But basically, to put it simply, the aerodynamics of the human body are not survivable at advanced Mach numbers. Hence the Aces II ejection seat is rated to about 600 knots. And anything that has been designed for faster sppeds resulted in a capsule, ala the B-58 and the F-111, that was designed to allow the human body to survive >mach 1 ejections. People have survived high speed ejections, usually just luck and things like the ejection seat being backwards which protected the body are the reasons why. But not purposely or by design. Just doesn't work.
 
sprout5199
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:08 pm

Quoting Texfly101 (Reply 26):
Joe Kittinger bailed out of the ballon at 102,800 feet and reached a top speed of 614 mph (approx Mach 1 at the altitude he was at that moment, not 102,800)

That was the guy. Was cool to see the video from the balloon when he jumped. When they talked to him, he said there was no feeling of falling for the first couple of minutes due to lack of air noise.

Dan in Jupiter
 
skysurfer
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:37 pm

Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 22):
I find it amazing that even though the bird is retired, its specs are still classified until 2021. And 85,000' may have been an operational ceiling used for most flights, but I've seen 100,000' a lot in print and do believe that it is capable of that altitude.

If the F-15 can do a high speed climb and 'top-out' to 105,000ft before falling back to earth, i'm betting the SR-71 got alot higher than 105K or COULD get alot higher if it had to.....either under power or through a high speed climb and 'cruise' to 'height'.

Cheers
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texfly101
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Fri Apr 28, 2006 5:48 am

Quoting Sprout5199 (Reply 27):
That was the guy. Was cool to see the video from the balloon when he jumped. When they talked to him, he said there was no feeling of falling for the first couple of minutes due to lack of air noise.

Yep, he is a very cool guy. When I lived in Orlando, FL, he was the pilot who flew a Stearman biplane that advertised a local tourist spot. He and my dad knew each other from their service time, Wright Pat especially, and I got to talk to Mr. Kittenger quite a bit. Very nice guy and he was always approachable and friendly. His recitation of that experiment really fleshes out the risks and guts it took to do that. Very funny too. A red faced Scot type, hale and hearty to people, no pompousness at all. Listening to him and my dad talk makes you love the history of aviation.
 
RC135U
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sat Apr 29, 2006 10:22 am

Quoting 474218 (Reply 8):
The pilot, Bill Weaver, was thrown out and survived and the Radar Systems Operator (RSO) was killed. The SR-71 carried no weapons so it did not need a Weapons System Operator (WSO).

You're right - it is RSO (for Reconnaissance Systems Operator). BTW the lost RSO on 952 was Jim Zwayer. Both crew were Lockheed employees.
 
474218
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sat Apr 29, 2006 10:35 am

Quoting RC135U (Reply 30):
Both crew were Lockheed employees.

I worked with Bill Weaver for many years he was an L-1011 production test pilot and retired from Lockheed several years ago. He still flies the Orbital Science L-1011 when they launch the Pegasus rocket.
 
GDB
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 30, 2006 12:17 am

Grbld, Concorde expanded about 8-9 inches while in supercriuse, not 3 feet!

I am surprised the successful high altitude ejection from a Mig-25, at I think Mach 2.6, has not been mentioned.
Don't know if it's not line, I just remember reading a detailed article about it, including talking to the pilot, in a military aviation mag about 6 years ago.

Martin Baker's figures are for their seats, and I'd rate them as the most advanced in the game, since they largely developed the modern ejection seat and have the market share to prove it.
But the Russians make very capable seats, I suspect having to develop one for something like the Mig-25 was a great spur to their ejection seat designers.
 
RC135U
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 30, 2006 2:28 am

Quoting 474218 (Reply 31):
I worked with Bill Weaver for many years

I'm always struck by the breadth of contacts and experiences on these forums.
 
David L
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 30, 2006 2:48 am

Quoting Waterpolodan (Reply 24):
Quoting Vzlet (Reply 23):
From living in Germany in the 1980s, I can tell you that an SR-71 on a typical mission routinely generates a distinctly audible boom (a quick double boom, actually).

Interesting, When the plane was flying overhead at that altitude could you see anything, maybe a tiny, faint contrail? 747s are hard enough to see at 35,000 ft, so I don't imagine anything more than the contrail would be visible of a blackbird at 80,000 ft...

I experienced this in Rheindahlen in about 1980, too. It was a clear, blue sky and none of us could see a sign of it, though I don't know how far we were off the flightpath. Similarly in the UK for a Concorde trial flight in the 1970s but there was horizon to horizon cloud where I was that day!
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Sun Apr 30, 2006 3:01 am

Quoting RC135U (Reply 33):
I'm always struck by the breadth of contacts and experiences on these forums.

Me too. I knew Bill Skliar (google him!) slightly. He was later killed preparing for the Reno Air Races. His memorial service was held in an old hangar at the old Stead AFB and was the kind of sendoff I'd like. Amazing the variety of people who knew him well enough to attend the service!

Six degrees of separation is more like two or three in professional and/or military aviation. When I got around to reading Gordo Cooper's book I discovered that he was friends with my friend Bill Paynter and I never met Gordo through him. I guess the conversation just never worked around to him.

Lots of other examples of this, worthy of a whole thread.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
bsergonomics
Posts: 458
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2002 5:07 am

RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Fri May 05, 2006 9:49 am

First of all, the ejection sequence (simplified version, assuming a seat-mounted system):

1. You prepare yourself for ejection (legs out, arms in, at least one visor down - assuming you have time).
2. You pull the yellow and black handle.
3. The MDC in the canopy explodes.
4. The rocket motor ignites and takes you clear of the aircraft.
5. Your drogue 'chute opens. Depending on the system, your seat may also fall away.
6. You stabilise and then start to fall, down to about 10000 feet AMSL.
7. At about 10000 feet AMSL (again, depends on the seat system), if you are still attached to your seat, it falls away. Your main 'chute opens and your Personal Survival Pack (PSP) falls down, attached to you/the 'chute on a long lanyard.
8. You parachute down, perform a perfect roll, get picked up and are home in time for tea and medals, with nothing more than a spine that has been compressed by about 2 inches (5cm), wind burn to any exposed skin, minor lacerations from the exploding canopy and bruises from the landing.

In practice, it's not that simple. Firstly, the seat is only qualified up to a certain velocity. This is normally about 600kts at sea level. The reason for this limit is relatively simple. The method for certifying a seat is to fire it along a fixed track and then perform an 'ejection' with a human-sized dummy mounted on the seat. The physical, environmental, economic and legal restraints on such a test mean that 600 kts is pretty much the maximum that anyone will go to (publicly, at least).

These data are included in the performance manual for any specific aircraft, along with an assessment of both forward and vertical speed (Note: Zero-Zero seats mean that you can 'safely' eject while stationary on the runway; it does not mean that you can 'safely' eject at 200 feet AGL with a vertical speed (downwards) of 5000 ft/min). The result is a Survivability Curve. The purpose of this graph is to say, "If you eject within these limits, you will probably survive. If you are outside of the curve, then it's your own decision."

I know one pilot who, at about Mach 1, hit a situation where the manual stated that he should have ejected. However, the manual also stated that he was outside of the Survivability Curve. For a number of reasons, he stayed with the aircraft and eventually managed to save it. However, he says that the curve was running through his mind all of the time that he was fighting to regain control.

As a pure anecdote (i.e., I've heard it from informed people, but have absolutely no verification), there is a Russian pilot who survived an ejection at about Mach 2. Apparently, the option was to follow the aircraft into a big, smoking hole in the ground, or eject. He chose the latter, and survived. If so, it proves three things. One is that the body can be more resilient than some think. The second is that equipment is built according specification requirements; the only specification that the human body has to fulfil is that dictated by Darwin. The third is that The Ground is the ultimate laxative - if you have the option between a risky escape and a VERY hard landing, the risky escape gets the vote every time.
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
 
keta
Posts: 405
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2005 7:14 am

RE: Can A Pilot Eject At Mach 2?

Mon May 08, 2006 3:03 am

Quoting Bsergonomics (Reply 36):
As a pure anecdote (i.e., I've heard it from informed people, but have absolutely no verification), there is a Russian pilot who survived an ejection at about Mach 2. Apparently, the option was to follow the aircraft into a big, smoking hole in the ground, or eject. He chose the latter, and survived.

That's awesome, I wasn't sure whether a body would withstand the force or not. Thanks for the post Bsergonomics!
Where there's a will, there's a way

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