On August 7, 1984, I was flying an ACM 2v4 mission over the KIAMICHI river in SE Oklahoma. During the first engagement I flew my F4 into a low speed high angle of attack departure. This normally was not a problem but on this occasion my F4 transitioned into a flat spin. This is unrecoverable in the F4!
After a few spins I made the decision to eject. We were at about 8000ft at the time going straight down. I felt like I had made the ejection decision early but the plane hit the ground 3 seconds after I cleared the cockpit! The Initial shock of ejection was enormous. I was sitting straight up in a good position one second the next I was bent over looking at my crotch then the next I was in the chute checking my canopy. The next thing I heard was the explosion under me. I looked down and the fireball was coming up to meet me. I grabbed the 4 line release to steer my chute away from the flames. I made it to the other side of the river from the crash. This was the first time I felt fear! My training and Martin Baker had saved my life!
Phantom F4 Heritage Flght
As I now had escaped the flames I started to look for a landing site, and the only thing under me was 50ft oak trees and the river. I also noted that my seat kit had not deployed and I pulled the manual release handle and nothing happened! The trees were coming up fast so I prepared to penetrate the trees by streamlining my body and covering my neck and face with my hands. I went threw the tree canopy like butter. It turns out that the seat kit strapped to my backside took all the punishment the tree could deliver and spared me from injury!
I was left hanging in the tree about 5ft above the river bank and I began to swing back and forth and grabbed the tree trunk to climb down. After releasing my chute I slid down the tree and into the river. The seat kit that protected me from the tree was now making my escape from the river more difficult. I worked my way up the river to a point where large tree roots allowed me to climb out of the river. I then walked to the other side of the tree line and took off my harness and the seat kit. My WSO was there on his radio talking to my wingman to let them know we were both alright. He had landed in a clearing and his equipment had worked perfectly. I am convinced that if *my seat kit deployed as designed I would have been severely injured by the impact of the tree limbs. I have always said I would rather be lucky than good!
*This is the short version of my ejection experience, I hope this is enough details for you. I too have been a watch freak since I was a kid and only recently discovered BREMONT watches. I have yet to see one in person and purchased the MBI in a leap of faith due to the insights that I have gleaned from this forum. I was wearing the same Rolex datejust during both my ejections and she ran for over 20 years before I had her serviced! I don't plan on putting my MB-1 thru this kind of abuse ! So I guess I will have two ejection certified watches! Jim.....
Cheers Jim.. ATG