Canucks over Scotland
I will attempt to provide you with the details of my ejection as I can recall them. Although it is 45 years later, the facts are still quite clear in my mind.
I was a navigator flying with F/L J.E. Flannigan in an Avro CF100 "Canuck" #18395 deploying with 445 Squadron RCAF from Canada to France on November 4, 1956. The trip had been uneventful for the first two stages and until approximately 1 1/2 hours of the final leg from Keflavik, Iceland to Marville, France. Shortly after crossing the Scottish coast, we experienced control difficulty with the aircraft and began to lose altitude in a gentle dive from 35,000 feet.
The controls appeared to be frozen and the dive was gradually becoming steeper. At approximately 20,000 feet, I was warned by my pilot to prepare for a possible ejection. I did this by tightening my seat harness and pulling the face blind of the ejector seat partially out and down over my helmet. I then advised Jack that I was ready. Following normal ejection procedure, Jack activated the canopy jettison switch in the front cockpit, however, there was a malfunction and the canopy didn't jettison. I attempted to use the jettison switch in the rear cockpit but it didn't work either. By this time, we had descended through 15,000 feet at some 450 kts true air speed. The controls were still locked and Jack told me to go through it. [the canopy]
Much to my surprise, everything worked! I ejected through the canopy. This alone was a little scary and I blacked out during the actual ejection and didn't feel a thing. I had done ground training on a rig but the actual thing was a lot noisier and the kick in the butt was a tad stronger I seem to remember. My seat harness released and for some reason I thought it was my parachute harness coming off so I held on for dear life. I came to and looked up to see the stabilising drogue deployed, I then realised what was happening and let go of the seat harness allowing my parachute to be deployed. This opened with a fair jolt. Because our flight had been over the north Atlantic, we were wearing survival immersion suits which were designed to be waterproof is forced down at sea. Unfortunately, the design included rubber boots as part of the suit which provided little in the way of ankle support. When my chute opened, the boots slipped down and were actually off my feet although still attached to the pantlegs. As a consequence, on landing I received a minor strain in one ankle. We were very fortunate to land in a soft meadow. During our flight, we were the No.1 of a two plane formation. Our #2 A/C stayed with us throughout up until the actual ejection, and continued to follow the A/C to observe the crash site.
During my 5 minute descent, I was able to see the pilot, who had ejected below me. He was descending quite rapidly, with some tears in his chute. It was later determined that when he ejected, the canopy had come off as well and his chute had become caught up in it and had 9 of the 24 panels torn. He suffered from a dislocated shoulder as a result and still has limitations in the use of that arm. I landed in a farm meadow near Cupar, Scotland. The A/C crashed near Kilmaron Castle, the home of Sir James Morrison-Low, and almost on top of a young lad who had seen the pilot land a short distance away and was running towards him. He didn't see me until I almost hit him. As I recall, the pilot landed 2-300 yards away. He was hospitalised for some time and off flying until April or May of the next year. My log book shows our first flight together following the ejection was May 3, 1957.
As an aside, prior to that time, there had never been a successful ejection from the rear seat of a CF100 through the canopy. There had been some modifications to the seat ( a Mark 2E according to the report) prior to our departure for Europe, but I cannot remember what they entailed. At any rate, I am quite happy that the seat worked as advertised.