A 64-year-old French defense industry manager was given a very special surprise gift by his friends and colleagues.
The morning of the big surprise, the gentleman that had never expressed any interest in aviation, aircraft, or flying in any fashion, was given the incredible and most unexpected news that his friends had somehow obtained special ministerial approval for him to hop on as a passenger on a French Air Force Dassault Rafale B fighter jet. SUPRISE!
The Dassault Rafale B, who’s name literally means “Burst of Fire" is a twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence mission "omnirole” aircraft. Sporting two Snecma M88 engines, delivering up to 17,000 pounds of thrust with afterburners, capable of bringing the supersonic jet to speeds of 1,188 mph, or Mach 1.8 at altitude.
After an impromptu medical at Saint Dizier Air Base, and a quick pre flight safety brief, the unsuspecting gentleman passenger was placed in to the rear seat of the Rafale B fighter jet, and strapped in. Shortly after, the French Air Force pilot cranked up the two Snecma M88 engines, swiped the controls, then taxied out, and lined up on the runway…
Lighting up 34 thousand pounds of thrust with afterburners, the Rafale jet hurled itself down the runway, launched into the air, and was climbing to 2500 feet when the pilot began to ease a bit of backstick pressure. The lessening of the pull caused the passenger to float slightly out of his seat. Reaching for something to hold, the gentleman now with a total time of 20 seconds of flight time under his belt, most unfortunately tried to brace himself using a black and yellow stripped handle conveniently placed in-between his legs.
The handle he chose to seek comfort with, is connected to an underseat lateral rocket motor that he unwittingly initialled to its firing command functions.
Within milliseconds, the glass canopy above was sliced away by multiple cutting explosive charges freeing him to the blue skies above, as his MK 16 Ejection Seat fired its cartridges, and most expeditiously and unceremoniously sent the poor birthday boy on his own explosive journey with instant acceleration to 625 nautical miles per hour…away from the fighter jet.
Thankfully the ejection seat continued to do as it was designed, firing its drogue deployment unit, deployed its parachutes, and under a full canopy, gently brought the poor passenger back to the ground.
The now solo, and non too pleased French pilot brought his topless jet back for a safe touchdown at homebase, minus one passenger, seat and canopy…