800 Sqdn FAA Seahawk shot down by RAF Camera!
The following is an extract from "Noah's News" dated February 1956. The Noah's News was (and I suppose still is) the unofficial periodical of HMS Ark Royal. At the time she was operating in the Med and had 800 Squadron's Seahawks embarked. In January, 800 had lost a cab but gained a successful ejection. Inter-service rivalry is always rife, In the Fleet Air Arm inter-squadron rivalry is intense but humour is normally the weapon of choice. So this is how 800 NAS cleared their yardarm in '56
"800 Squadron News. From the Ejector Seat.
.......In keeping with our policy of always being on the spot, it was one of our regular correspondents who was actually in the seat as it ejected. His brilliant article, calmly written as he floated down must be regarded as one of the scoops of the month......"
"......How to Spend £49,000 by A.R.C.
Four of our Seahawks were engaged in air to air combat training with four RAF Meteors over Malta....
The object was to get an opponent in one's gunsight and mark the event with a gun camera..
We dropped to about 20,000 feet when I noticed a red light come on in the cockpit. 'Bless my soul', I said, or words to that effect; for this light meant that I had a fire in my fuel tank..... I told the leader what was wrong and that I was stepping outside until it was sorted out.... The seat - maintained by NAM(O) Rogers - fired and ejected me well clear of the aircraft. After a period of all hell breaking loose, with the seat cartwheeling through the air, the drogue automatically fired and kept the seat steady as I dropped at 12,000 feet per minute to 10,000 feet. On reaching this altitude the barostatic timing release unit operated and released my harness, opened my parachute - packed by NA(SE) Smith - and tipped me out of the seat while ensuring I didn't get hit on the swede. Some release unit!..... I saw the splash where the plane had gone in.... The RAF are claiming that I'm the first man they've shot down with a camera!"
Sadly the users of ejection seats are no longer Gentlemen. Once, a survivor would seek out the maintainers and buy them beer. Now they no longer even bother to say thank you. Having broached the subject with a survivor I was informed that the maintainers were only doing the job they were paid to do. By extrapolation we only need to fit ejection seats on combat missions, on all other missions the aeroplane should be returned to us. Say 'Thanks'