B-1B Grounding/ Ejection Seat Issues


SOF Support
Sep 8, 2006
For those of you who didn't see the story, A "Bone" crew suffered an engine fire while on a training mission. Things were dire enough the aircraft commander ordered an ejection. Bad story, but...

The Offensive Systems Operator was the first to punch out, except they didn't. The hatch blew but the seat went nowhere. Now you have this bomber with 4 souls on board, an engine fire, and one of your crew tried to eject, but couldn't because of an equipment malfunction.

"Whatcha' gonna' do, PL?"

Heroism: How a Young U.S. Air Force B-1B Bomber Crew Saved an Aircraft and Crew Lives

The AC cancelled the call to eject. The SECAF put this into perspective at a press conference:

“That did two things. First the airman who’s sitting on an ejection seat where he’s pulled the fire pins ― and sits there for the next 25 minutes. Wondering whether ― it’s like pulling out the pin on a grenade and holding it as you come in to land. And not knowing whether the next piece of turbulence is going to cause you to launch.”

It also meant if things went sideways there was no guarantee anyone would survive. I give pilots and aircrew grief, but that was pretty ballsy. Even if the fire was out they didn't know what sort of damage was done to the airframe or fuel systems and the OSO? That poor bastard was along for the ride. Literally.