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Ejection Seat

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Q: Now this I'm particularly keen about. You see the gear-lever here? Now if you take the top off, you'll find a little red button. Whatever you do, don't touch it.
James Bond: And why not?
Q: Because you'll release this section of the roof, and engage and fire the passenger ejector seat. Whoosh!
Bond: Ejector seat? You're joking!
Q: I never joke about my work, 007.

An emergency device intended to allow the driver of a vehicle to escape if a devastating crash is inevitable. Any vehicle, that is — Space fighters, normal fighters, helicopters, giant mecha, submarines, secret agent super cars, and delivery vans are all likely to have an ejection seat installed. Usually triggered by a Big Red Button.

A Sub-Trope of Abandon Ship: rather than just getting the heck out of (the) Dodge, the seat is helping you out (the door). When the pilot nears the ground, he may find himself hanging from a Parachute in a Tree. Deadly Escape Mechanism occurs if the ejection kills its user.

Smaller cousin of the Escape Pod. Contrast Armored Coffins. See also Eject... Eject... Eject....


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  • An Australian beer ad had a yobbo tourist taking one of those "Fly a Russian MiG" tours.
    Russian Pilot: [subtitles] Don't push the red button!
    Tourist: What?
    [Pilot taps the red star on his helmet] Red button!
    Tourist: OK! [hits the red button and fires the ejector seat]

    Anime & Manga 
  • Shin is forced to eject at least once in Area 88. One OVA character takes a sadistic glee in shooting down other pilots after they eject.
  • Code Geass has ejector seats as a major feature of the Knightmare Frames. In fact, according to the backstory, this trope is the very reason Knightmares exist to begin withnote . The fact that the Lancelot doesn't have one is made out to be a big deal. Other Knightmare Frames, often of a prototypical/limited production run does not have ejection seats either, such as the Gawain, which is more of a test-bed platform for new technologies, and likewise its derivative unit, Shinkiro. Interestingly, Lancelot Frontier, which is made from Lancelot's old spare parts, does have an ejection seat.
    • Failsafe Failure is mostly averted, but there are a couple of moments. In one episode, we see a character (Kewell) die when the Guren Mk-II's radiant wave fries his machine's internal computers. In another, Lelouch is badly injured because the seat activates when he doesn't have a clear vector of escape, making it bounce off the ground and nearby objects like a rubber ball; it's frankly quite amazing that he didn't get whiplash. Given a good vector of ejection however, KMF pilot blocks would deploy parachutes to lower its speed and safely set it on the ground.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: Italy and Poland both of them used it in different moments. Sadly, they got stuck in a tree immediately after.
  • While most Variable Fighters in the earlier Macross series have standard ejection seats, the VF-25 Messiah from Macross Frontier is the first major model where the pilots instead wear exoskeletons/mini-mecha (called EX-Gear) that dock with the cockpit. The pilot can then eject and fly away, even in outer space, using their own self-propelled EX-Gear, which has its own wings, thrusters, and limbs.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam had the Core Fighter, a small aerospace fighter that makes up the cockpit of the Federation's Super Prototypes. The concept returns in a few series, but in some cases (particularly the Victory Gundam and Impulse Gundam) it seems to have been implemented mainly to allow for transformation and replacement of damaged parts rather than as an escape vehicle. The 08th Ms Team depicts a more traditional ejection seat. Zeta Gundam does introduce an escape pod which is the spherical cockpit of the mech, however very few people are saved by this system.
    • The original Gundam's Core Fighter subverts this, since its main purpose is to preserve the Gundam's learning computer and its compiled combat data, with letting the pilot escape alive being a side-benefit.
      • Gundam SEED meanwhile gives ZAFT pilots fightpacks to save themselves with in the event of their suit being disabled (or set to self-destruct), but they have to open the cockpit and jump out manually, so it's not nearly effective. Earth Federations pilots on the other hand get nothing.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the "entry plugs" that the EVA pilots rode in could be ejected in case of emergency. They didn't always work.
  • Daitetsu in Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku has an ejection seat in his taxicab.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie:
    • In one comic, Jughead as Captain Hero faces a courteous villain who left his own car via ejection seat, while the car is in motion.
    • In another comic, Mr. Weatherbee decides to take a break in the shop class, where the students have been constructing pieces of an airplane. We next see Jughead reporting that 'The Bee' has hit the ceiling, and because he sat on an ejector seat, that was Not Hyperbole.
  • Batman: Given its appearance in no fewer than two other media, it is a pretty safe assumption that every iteration of Batmobile has an ejector seat. The same goes for the Batplane/Batwing. One of the Batman vs Predator titles features a borrowed single-pilot police attack helicopter with an ejection seat, which is odd, because there are very few helicopters with ejection seats.note  There was only one single-pilot attack helicopter produced ever.
  • Firefly: The Sting: The Mule has a seat that ejects with the push of a button which Kaylee uses to throw out Saffron.
  • Green Arrow: The Arrowcar came equipped with ejector seats that Green Arrow and Speedy used to launch themselves to high places.
  • In Green Lantern, an airplane went down and Hal Jordan thought that maybe the pilot had forgotten where the lever was. He himself had managed to persuade Kyle Rayner to take a flight — without his ring — and after Kyle had double-checked everything, he had asked how to trigger the ejection seat, and Hal hadn't remembered.
  • Star Wars Legends: Generally averted with the TIE Fighters, which are well known among the Star Wars community for NOT having ejector seats, among other things, which is used as an example of how The Empire doesn't give a fig about its, well, anything. They have reserves. But there is actually a plot in the Darklighter arc of Star Wars: Empire which hinges on ejecting in better suits while their modified TIEs get shot down.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • A Darker Path: Due to the quirks of her Tinker power, Squealer always builds her vehicles with ejection seats instead of regular seats. She just doesn't connect them up if she doesn't intend to use them. (But it's easy for Atropos to reconnect it when sabotaging the vehicle.)
    Reave: Why did he have a working ejection seat? We may never know.​
  • Though we don't see it in action, the Sharpie Graffiti Girls of Doom (don't ask) from Of Love and Bunnies have one installed in their tricked out truck. They claim a car thief accidentally activated it, got head trauma and had a Heel–Faith Turn, which they're all proud of.

    Film — Animation 
  • Batman: Soul of the Dragon. Lady Shiva uses the ejection seat in Bruce Wayne's Weaponized Car (not the Batmobile, but a disguised civilian car) to blast herself onto an overpass that the villains are using to escape. Without bothering to ask for Batman's approval first.
  • At the beginning of The Incredibles, Mr Incredible uses the ejector seat to get Buddy out of his car. In the sequel, the kids use both seats to get on the Everjust, Winston Deavor's hydrofoil.
  • In Justice League vs. Teen Titans, Robin hijacks the Batwing and pilots it towards the Trigon-possessed Weather Wizard, using the ejector seat to escape before it crashes.
  • In The Magic Roundabout (2005), Dylan inadvertently uses the ejector seat on Brian while wondering if one of the buttons in Train's control panel would slow Zeebad down who is giving chase in the driller train.
  • Yellow Submarine. Ringo is steering the sub as they pass through the Sea of Monsters. Old Fred tells him "Whatever you do, don't touch that button." Of course Ringo does so, and is ejected out of the submarine.
    Old Fred: [as Ringo goes flying] That's the panic button.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious features a pair of improvised ejection seats in two cars powered by partially spent N2O cylinders usually used for Nitro Boost. Played with when Brian delays hitting the button because he needs the mook in the seat for a little longer, and again when he presses the button and it doesn't work, opening the way for Roman's Big Damn Heroes moment. By the way this isn't how N20 works.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: During the test of the Jet Car, Buckaroo Banzai gets someone Locked Out of the Loop over his radio going "Eject, Buckaroo! Eject!" but Buckaroo refuses and goes on to go through the mountain and into the Eighth Dimension.
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember. Used in the Show Within a Show Austinpussy. An In-Universe Tom Cruise playing Austin ejects from his Shaguar just before it's blown up by a helicopter gunship, using this trope to do a Leap and Fire over the rotor blades while firing mini-Uzis Guns Akimbo. Yeah, baby!
  • Battle Beyond the Stars. Sador has to lower the forcefield on his Mile-Long Ship to fire his Stellar Converter, so Saint-Exmin stops this by crashing her spaceship into it while ejecting in an Escape Pod which is immediately surrounded by three enemy fighters. She's tells the others It Has Been an Honor and destructs the pod, taking the fighters with her. When Shad and Nanelia are facing capture, they tell their Sapient Ship Nell to activate the Self-Destruct Mechanism, but she insists on ejecting them first in her own escape projectile. Fortunately there aren't any fighters left, so they're the Sole Survivors of the eponymous battle.
  • The original Behind Enemy Lines film shows an ejection sequence in quite a bit of detail: once the handle is pulled, straps pull the pilot and RIO's legs tight against their seats (to avoid anything getting caught on anything), charges go off, igniting the rockets, and when their parachutes pop, the chairs themselves fall away, broadcasting a distress signal back to home base. The pilot is seriously injured from the ejection and the landing, and the RIO is suitably exhausted and has minor injuries himself, even though they were flying at relatively slow speedsnote .
  • In Big Game, Oskari and Moore eject themselves from Air Force One cockpit to escape the explosion that's just about to blow submerged Air Force One to bits.
  • The HBO movie By Dawn's Early Light (1990). During World War III a B-52 crewman goes insane and activates his ejection seat, blowing everyone but the two pilots out of the aircraft.
  • The Cannonball Run features the Aston Martin DB V from Goldfinger, complete with ejector seat, driven by Roger Moore playing a man who thinks that he is Roger Moore. The seat malfunctions and Moore ends up ejecting himself.
  • In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, when Baron Bomburst commands Grandpa to make the eponymous car fly, Grandpa presses a button at random that sends the Baroness shooting skyward out of her seat (she is saved by her Parachute Petticoat).
  • The Batmobile in The Dark Knight has an unconventional ejector seat which converts into a kickass Bike from hell. Also, in The Dark Knight Rises, Batman manages to eject from his Batpod and control it remotely allowing him to fly it to a safe distance and fake his own death.
  • Death Race has an ejector seat in the hero's car. The eject was never for the driver, just the female navigator (it's suggested that too many women getting killed is bad for ratings). An ejector seat is improvised into a mortar to take out a pursuing car, and later having worked out that the navigator has sabotaged his vehicle, Jensen Ames forces a confession by driving under a low-roofed warehouse and threatening to eject her if she doesn't talk.
  • In Die Hard 2, John McClane is cornered in the cockpit of a cargo plane by terrorists who start tossing in grenades (with absurdly long fuses). Acting quickly, he straps himself into the pilot's seat and activates the ejector seat. It should be noted cargo planes generally don't have ejector seats.
  • Flight of the Intruder has several. They also work in an opportunity for Exact Words.
    "This is the end of Devil 505, say goodbye asshole! Eject eject eject!"
    "Goodbye asshole!" *ejection seats fire*
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) uses this for a short bit of dark comedy. A bunch of fighter jets attempt to take down the Giant Flyer Kaiju Rodan, and they don't have much success. One pilot ejects when his fighter gets heavily damaged—and the seat rockets him straight into Rodan's open mouth.
  • Parodied in Hot Shots!, where a character successfully ejects... right into another plane. His head is stuck in another pilot's cockpit for a good long while, his arms and legs flailing around uselessly as he begs said pilot "Don't land!"
  • Iron Man saves a pilot who was pursuing him after the pilot is forced to eject. After damage to the fighter jet, the ejection seat is damaged, and the chute won't deploy. Tony uses the armor's strength to pull the lever hard enough to unjam it.
  • James Bond:
    • The one in the Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger (described in the page quote) is the front passenger seat, and Bond uses it to remove one of Goldfinger's Mooks from the car.
    • During one scene in GoldenEye, Bond ejects himself and Natalya from a stolen prototype combat helicopter that was rigged to shoot itself with its own missiles. Of course, the ejection mechanism shot out the blades from the top rotor first, for fairly obvious reasons.
    • In Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond uses an ejector to eject an unwanted co-pilot from his stolen fighter jet, downing another plane in the process.
    • In Die Another Day, he uses it as a propellant to flip his Aston Martin back onto its wheels. Oh, and dodge a missile at high speed.
    • In Skyfall it's Played for Laughs when Bond takes the Aston Martin from Goldfinger, complete with gadgets, out of a garage so that he and M can escape London. When M starts exasperating Bond, he flips up the secret panel on the gear-stick, revealing the red button, as if threatening to eject her. M, somewhat at the end of her tether, dares him to do it.
    • In Spectre, Bond is being chased and running out of road, so he ejects himself and lands safely on the street above while the car crashes into the river. He also glances at the gear-stick of the DB5 when Swann is his partner, but proceeds to drive her to their next location.
  • The last shot of Johnny English features Johnny English and Lorna Campbell preparing to kiss in his car...and then Johnny accidentally presses the ejector seat button, launching Lorna from the vehicle.
  • One of these is discussed in A New Hope during the assault on the Death Star (unfortunately for the pilot, he gets blown up before he has time to eject). The starfighter is designed so that the cockpit and couch would separate from the fuselage and engines, thus leaving the pilot drifting in what was effectively a survival capsule. The suit is air tight and has a small force field that will keep you breathing for about three or four hours. Now being next to a giant moon-sized space station that explodes isn't exactly survivable so it was still a waste of time.
  • Oblivion (2013). The entire bubble cockpit on the Future Copter ejects and deploys a parachute after an Attack Drone kamikazes into it.
  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure - Pee-Wee's bike has an ejector seat, as Francis discovers. It delivers nothing but poetic justice.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004). Action Girl and Ace Pilot "Franky" Cook ejects from her submersible airplane just in time to avoid a Macross Missile Massacre. After breaking the surface of the water, a Jet Pack boosts her the rest of the way up to her Airborne Aircraft Carrier. Even the rival for the hero's affections is impressed.
  • Space Mutiny. the Viper fighter craft, like the one our hero David Ryder flew in, is equipped with a "High-Density Deatomizer Escape System", which only works in short distances. When David's ship malfunctions thanks to Kalgan's sabotage, only David escapes, leaving his poor passenger to die in the crash. As David explains, it's only installed in the cockpit and it was the only thing working.
  • Speed Racer has an ejection mechanism that fills the cockpit with foam and then ejects the foam ball with the pilot inside. This allows them to survive such events as crashing into pillars at 300 kph or falling off a track at skyscraper height. They did this to justify the heroes sideswiping cars off cliffs in a kid-friendly movie, not to mention make the whole sport more believable. This didn't save Rex Racer when his "Quick Save" system failed to deploy in a wreck. One of many reasons that his death was considered highly suspicious.
  • In Star Trek Into Darkness, John Harrison uses a Transwarp transporter to beam himself safely away after Kirk cripples his gunship.
  • In Stealth, the Love Interest pilot is forced to eject in enemy territory. There's a long scene where she tries to out-fall the debris from her recently destroyed aircraft. When she finally does deploy her chute, the debris slices through it, lights it on fire, and burns it away just a few meters from the trees. She survives with just a few scratches though. Of course, that now means she's on the ground in North Korea. Not a good place for an American.
  • Top Gun shows that ejecting doesn't always help, as Goose smacks into the canopy and fatally breaks his neck. This was a real risk at one time; now the ejection seat in many fighters is designed with a mechanism to shatter the glass before the pilot could hit it in the case that the canopy is not out of the way already.note  Additionally, the F-14's canopy had a tendency to get sucked into a low-pressure zone directly above the cockpit during ejection.
    • In the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, during the climax Maverick and Rooster are out of ammo with an enemy SU-57 on their tail. Maverick tells Rooster to eject, but unfortunately, the ejection seats don't work, and they're only saved by the timely arrival of Hangman, who takes the enemy down right when he's got a lock on them.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League. Batman ejects when the Batmobile is blown up by Parademons, who immediately swarm the ejection seat in mid-air only to find that Batman has escaped from that using his Grappling-Hook Pistol.

  • Alex Rider: Alex Rider's bike has one of these in Eagle Strike. A more conventional example appears in a later book, Never Say Die.
  • Neil Shusterman's insanely fucked-up short story "The Dirt on Our Shoes" has people get ejected from a spaceship that is coming down towards an alien planet. There are no parachutes and they fall to their deaths on the side of a mountain.
  • Discussed in The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross, which goes into some detail as to why an ejection seat in a car is an insanely bad idea; when Bob Howard presses the eject button on his Cool Car, the entire car ejects, which is only slightly less so. It's made clear that only time you should press the button is if not pressing it is definitely going to kill you. The explanation also deflates the idea of the "easy eject"; Bob describes how, due to the G-forces involved, the pilot is likely looking at weeks in traction at best.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe and Legends use this a lot more than the films, so that people can and do survive that way. Sometimes, however, the ejector seat malfunctions, sometimes the canopy doesn't open. Both the successful and the tragic versions happen in the X-Wing Series. With the mag-con field active over their flight suits, pilots can survive for something like ten minutesnote  before freezing, since Space Is Cold. Most space battles involving a Standard Sci-Fi Fleet include shuttles that fly around rescuing ejected pilots. Averted with the TIE Fighters, which are well known among the Star Wars community for NOT having ejector seats, among other things, which is used as an example of how The Empire doesn't give a fig about its, well, anything. They have reserves. Starfighters of Adumar relates a humorous tale in which a pilot made a crash-landing on a moon in his Y-Wing. He lived, but his ejector seat malfunctioned, launching him with enough force to escape the low gravity. They collected him, but he got saddled with the name "Ejector Darpin". The ejection seats on a gunship are weaponized by Mace Windu in Shatterpoint; to capture the ship, he simply activates the seats with the Force and watches the crew go sailing away.
    • Not all TIE Fighters lack ejection seats. In some cases they do get added (particularly for elite units), although doing so adds weight and makes the TIE slightly less agile. This becomes more common after the Empire goes into decline post-Endor, since their recruitment base for more pilots is constantly shrinking. Since agility is pretty much the only thing the TIE Fighter has going for it (other than sheer numbers) not all TIE pilots actually consider this a good tradeoff. On the plus side, TIE pilots wear self-contained life support suits, so if they either have an ejection seat or can manage to bail out manually after being shot down, they can actually survive in space for quite a bit longer than the pilots of most Rebel starfighters.
  • The War Against the Chtorr. 'Lizard' Tirelli has to eject after the engines on her helicopter gunship are clogged and explode in a dust storm. The rotors and tail are blown off and the fuselage drifts down to the ground on a parachute.
  • As in the games on which they're based, the Wing Commander novels occasionally feature ejection seats. In End Run, it's noted that there's a mechanism that's supposed to prevent an ejection while on the carrier, but that has a reputation for not always functioning. Later in the novel it fails for one pilot, smashing him against the landing bay overheadnote .

    Live-Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die features an idiot who decides to play with an old ejection seat indoors...with predictable results.
  • Fighters in Babylon 5 are often equipped with ejector seats (the human Starfuries actually eject the entire cockpit as an Escape Pod), though rescue is a bit of a crapshoot in space, especially if whatever just destroyed your fighter is still shooting in your direction.
  • The Vipers in Battlestar Galactica have ejector seats, although ejecting usually means that you'll either be in a flashback episode, or have a long, ruminating episode full of wangst while you contemplate your slow demise. The Raptors also have them but they were only used once. The shape of the Raptor means the Guy in Back had to scramble up to the co-pilot seat in order to be safely ejected.
  • This is the whole premise of the British game show, erm... Ejector Seat. Contestants, if they get a question wrong, will be slowly slid backwards in their seats towards the "Danger Zone", and must answer a question correctly to stop themselves. Taking too long will have them be "ejected", which means "eliminated". The contestant's seat tips back and drops them out of the game (literally).
  • Farscape. In "Die Me, Dichotomy", Aeryn Sun ejects from her Prowler after it's damaged, but she's coming down over a frozen lake. Thanks to the retro-rockets it uses instead of a parachute, the seat melts through the ice, and thanks to Jammed Seatbelts, Aeryn can't get free in time.
  • Get Smart: Maxwell Smart's car occasionally features an ejector seat. You can imagine how well that works.
  • An episode of Good Eats had Alton ejecting "James Bond" from his bar with an ejection stool, complete with a Shout-Out to the dialog at the top of the page.
  • Played straight, averted, and subverted in several episodes of JAG. Appropriate, as several of the characters on the show are fighter pilots. Even part of the story behind Harm's Disappeared Dad.
    Harm: Punching out is the last thing a pilot ever wants to do. People think you get in trouble, pull the magic handle, and float safely to the ground? Every time you punch out you end up an inch shorter.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has a variation of this: the heroes' Gamer Drivers have a function where, in the event that their Rider Gauge is in danger of running out, they automatically cancel the transformation in order to prevent a Game Over and subsequent Critical Existence Failure. It fails Kiriya, aka. Kamen Rider Lazer, partway through the series as a result of Kuroto / Kamen Rider Genm's Dangerous Zombie Gashat having a jamming function that prevents this failsafe from activating, costing him his life.
  • Knight Rider: KITT's ejection seats never left the car, they simply catapulted the occupant a couple stories in the air. Which makes less sense. Usually Michael uses them to eject himself to a high platform he needs to reach.
  • When Wendy Watson flies to rescue The Middleman, IDA triggers the Middlejet's seat remotely, much to Wendy's horror.
  • The MythBusters proved you could, with some difficulty, put a crude ejector seat in a car and trick somebody into sitting on it. They also found that a rocket booster powerful enough to be useful for such a purpose would cook everyone else in the car. Which is why their ejection seat used pneumatic pressure instead.
  • Documentary series Pawn Stars had someone try to sell this to the pawn shop. It was appraised as genuine. And they learned it was still functioning and in all the years it had been owned and used as a chair in someone's living room, no one decided to randomly try the eject button.
  • Used for great hilarity in Red Dwarf. In the episode "SDRAWKCAB" Rimmer is conducting the shuttle pilot exam for new crew member Kryten. He instructs Kryten to start the spacecraft and fly it through the cargo bay doors into space. Kryten presses several buttons, which is then followed by a loud "whooshing" sound as Rimmer's ejector seat actives. Rimmer then does it to himself for a Failed Dramatic Exit in "Stoke Me A Clipper".
  • In the Stargate-verse, the F-302, being space-worthy fighters, can eject the whole two-place cockpit, as to make sure the pilots can survive in space. Most of other races' mook mobiles, like the Stargate SG-1 Goa'uld's Death Gliders or the Wraith Darts, have no such equipment.
  • "Scenes from a Hat" category on Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Things that should come with ejector seats. Wayne Brady hits on the bright idea of pushing down on the buzzer next to Drew. You can pretty much guess how Drew takes that.
  • Wonder Woman: In "Going, Going, Gone", Sheldon Como tricks a Russian pilot with an illusory UFO. The pilot jettisons his cargo and uses his ejection seat.
  • A favorite gimmick for Korean variety shows. Celebrities sit on chairs positioned next to a swimming pool and are given a quiz. Every time a celebrity answers a question wrong, a hydraulic ram flips the chair, launching its occupant into the pool. Some use being ejected as an opportunity to show how acrobatic they are while others are too heavy for the ram to actuate. Both lead to everyone rolling on the floor laughing.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech has these for its BattleMechs, usually with an automatic trigger in case of an ammo explosion that would otherwise destroy the 'Mech and the pilot with it. In some advanced designs, the entire head assembly comes free, but a plain old ejection after popping the canopy is still the default. It may be worth noting that the setting does canonically feature enemies ruthless enough to specifically gun for MechWarriors forced to do this. Aerospace fighters and conventional planes likewise typically mount ejection seats, though ejecting in high orbit presents some obvious problems for pilot retrieval; many ejected pilots have run out of life support before they could be retrieved.
    • And most importantly, as in Real Life, ejecting has a not-insignificant chance to kill or injure (from scrapes and cuts to broken bones to being impaled on a jagged piece of metal).
    • Some mechs mount full-head ejection systems. Rather than launching the pilot and seat through a blow-out panel in the cockpit, the entire mech's head is blasted off. On the one hand, this means that the pilot has an armored capsule that can protect them from battlefield hazards after they've ejected. On the other hand, the much stronger thrust needed to propel the multi-ton head sufficiently far enough away from the possibly exploding mech to be safe means that there's a much higher risk of the pilot sustaining serious injury.
    • While ejection seats are almost ubiquitous, there are a number of aircraft and battlemechs that lack them, due design oversights, manufacturing flaws, design tradeoffs, or simple lack of care, turning these vehicles into Armored Coffins. The Lyran's Lucifer LCF-R15 Space Plane had its ejection system removed during a retrofit program to solve its many other issues, and the comically underarmored Spider SDR-5V scout battlemech, first produced in 2650, didn't receive an ejection seat for over four hundred years.
  • An option for a Car Wars vehicle, too. It boasted three accessory packages: a hang glider to fly away, a parachute to waft down, or (the 'Mother-in-law special') absolutely nothing, for the Wile E Coyote impersonation scene. No restrictions on vehicle (although helicopters did lose their rotors after ignition request). Fellow Steve Jackson Games product GURPS Vehicles also, naturally, had these.
  • A common feature in R&D vehicles in Paranoia. Some of the many ways this can go horribly wrong:
    • The eject button is marked as "Bouncy Bubble Beverage Dispenser" or something along those lines.
    • The presence of an ejector seat was not considered when armour plating was added. (See also, head trauma.)
    • The seatbelt, if you used it at all, was poorly designed and disconnects as soon as the seat ejects.
    • And many, many more.
  • Some tau Battlesuits in Warhammer40k have an option for this.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat
    • Ejection seats play a major role in Ace Combat 5:
      • First, Cpt. Bartlett ejects from his damaged plane in the prologue and is picked up by an enemy spy ship, taking him out of the conflict until much later and promoting your character in his place.
      • Edge is later shot down in a similar situation (the missile that took out Bartlett had been fired at her, but he pulled it away from her) at the end of a mission, with worsening conditions forcing you to finish the mission without her and come back the next day to rescue her. It serves as something of an epiphany for her, since before that point she becomes obsessed with protecting the flight lead, sticking close to you even when you give the squad orders to scatter and attack whatever they want, but she starts giving you more space after this point.
      • Even later, after a ceremonial flight and patrol leads to fighting off a large wave of enemies, another wingman, Chopper, gets hit, but since you're over a crowded and populated city he decides to wait until enough people have evacuated before dropping his plane in the center of the stadium, to minimize casualties. He ends up waiting too long, and by the time there's enough people evacuated for him to safely go down, his ejection seat fails - it's also possible it was intentionally sabotaged, as the rest of the fight was clearly being interfered with by the 8492nd. When they ambush your squadron another two missions later, radio chatter mentions targeting the cockpit to make absolutely sure the legend of Razgriz dies, and Swordsman eventually tricks them by signalling you to eject before he shoots down the now-empty aircraft.
      • In your later Boss Battle against Grabacr and Ofnir squadrons, it's mentioned that they also successfully eject, and turn up for one last showdown in the epilogue.
    • Enemy aces in Ace Combat Zero sometimes manage to eject and survive the battle, according to the Assault Records, though survival is never guaranteed. Espada 1, for instance, only manages to both eject and survive long enough to get back into the air if you're playing as a Knight Ace (as a Mercenary he dies immediately, and as a Soldier he ejects but dies of his wounds shortly after), while Sorcerer 2 is killed when he ejects, only for his parachute to catch fire. Another ace is also noted to be named "The Guillotine" because of his habit of aiming for the cockpit to prevent his enemies from escaping.
    • During the tutorial mission in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, a QTE requires you to punch certain buttons to after your craft is hit. Failure to do so will end in a Game Over. Of course, successfully ejecting still results in the plane that shot you down turning around and ramming into you, at which point it turns out to be a dream.
  • One of the devices you can equip on your vehicle in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.
  • Harebrained Schemes' Battletech features ejection seats in all 'mechs (including in the SDR-5V Spider, which canonically lacks one). Unlike in the tabletop game, however, the ejection seats are manual only, with the exception of two story mode characters who auto-eject when their 'mechs are blown up. Pressing the button detonates the 'mech's head and ejects the pilot, removing both 'mech and MechWarrior from the mission. While expensive to fix, it is usually less expensive than losing a valued MechWarrior or permanently ruining a valuable 'mech's equipment by having its other limbs blown off.
  • Both the Battle Zone 1998 RTS/FPS and its sequel will automatically engage a powerful ejection system in the Hover Tanks when their hull is crippled, capable of launching a pilot hundreds of meters in the air - and in the sequel, the pilot can then engage a one-use Jet Pack to launch them even further in the air. Ejection is particularly important in the singleplayer, because you're not a Non-Entity General; death is an instant game-over. Battezone II has weapons that seem purpose-built for killing ejected pilots, like the ISDF Pulse Stabber which sends out waves of radiation as it flies that can kill a pilot as he ejects.
  • Command & Conquer:
  • In Critical Mass, if you don't eject before your ship is destroyed, you have Permadeath. This is true of most flight-simulation games, unless there is no ejection option.
  • In Escape Velocity, playing on "Strict Play" mode makes buying an escape pod a wise move. There's an auto-eject option which automatically launches it if your ship is breaking up.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, the P-996 Lazer fighter jet features one, letting you escape easily if you get shot up. However, if you manage to somehow wreck it, but still get to the ground mostly in one piece, the seat likes to fire you backwards into the ground to hurt you. In addition to that, one of the cars Franklin has to steal in one of the missions is a spy car from a movie studio that comes equipped with an ejectable passenger seat. The actress who Franklin accidentally kidnapped found this out the hard way when Franklin pressed the button, not knowing what it would do.
  • Heroes of the Storm:
    • On Braxis Holdout and Warhead Junction, the maps set in the StarCraft universe, the Core is a huge cannon mech. When either team destroys the core, the the pilot ejects from the mech and flies through the air with a "GG" parachute.
    • In the alpha/beta, Tychus' Odin heroic used to eject him if it was destroyed. This had the unintended side effect of making him nigh-unkillable, so was removed before the game went live. Now, he dies with his ship.
    • D.Va also appears in this game, functioning just like she does in Overwatch.
  • Hitman (2016): In "The Final Test", the first playthrough guides you to kill the target by tricking him into activating the (unknown to him, active) ejection seat in a jet. Hitman 2, in its recreation of this mission, answers the question of if you've just killed someone on your side (the test is a reenactment) by adding a line from Diana stating that the seat's parachute still works.
  • The MechCommander series had ejection as part of the gameplay. Your Mechwarriors would typically successfully eject (with some injury, which was another gameplay mechanic) should their 'Mechs be disabled by anything but destruction of the head. Understandably (as the head contains the cockpit), destruction of the cockpit results in the death of the Mechwarrior. In either case, death of your Mechwarrior would result in him being removed from your roster permanently; a fairly big issue, as Mechwarriors get better with experience and recruited Mechwarriors cost credits and are typically worse than the ones you currently have.
  • The MechWarrior series has escape pods built into the cockpits of their BattleMechs that gave pilots a chance to survive a losing fight. In some games, they are seemingly powerful enough to get back to orbit under their own power, which is a good bit beyond the normal capabilities of ejection seats in the board game. Traditionally, the "Eject" button is basically a "Suicide" button for when a player gets stuck or crippled in the middle of nowhere, but Mechwarrior Living Legends allows players to bail out (in a full suit of Battlarmor) and continue fighting on foot, though with much weaker weapons (just an anti-infantry gatling gun) than dedicated Battlearmor players. In Mechwarrior 2 Mercenaries, ejecting allows you to continue on the campaign at the cost of losing your mech and failing to complete the mission you're currently on, potentially leading to a Non Standard Game Over if you're out of replacement mechs and don't have enough money to buy a new one.
  • A rather obscure Sega Mega Drive game called Mi G 29 Fighter Pilot has an Eject Function. Ejecting before your plane crashes lets you continue the mission as is, but not ejecting will boot you back to the first mission. Amusingly you cannot simply eject without any need or you will be disciplined. This is because you can actually eject at any time, even while your plane is ready for take off, that is to say, seconds after starting a mission.
  • In Operation Flashpoint pilots routinely bail out from their badly damaged helicopters. It's not ejection in the usual sense of the word, they simply jump out and pull their chutes, but it's still absurd, since they usually go through the still-turning rotors and yet remain unharmed.
  • D.Va uses one of these to escape from her Mini-Mecha in Overwatch, whether she set it to self-destruct of the enemy trashed it. D.Va herself is still a completely valid target, as she can keep shooting while on foot and can summon herself a new MEKA if she survives long enough.
  • Sabre Ace: Conflict Over Korea puts ejector seats on all the jet planes. Prop-driven planes just have the pilot jump out of the cockpit.
  • SPY Fox in Dry Cereal uses this trope for the last puzzle. Comically, it's activated by a toaster.
    • Subverted earlier in the game where Fox steals a truck to chase after the big bad. He sees an "eject" button on the truck's dash and assumes it's for an ejection seat, it was actually just for the cassette deck.
  • In Star Wars: Rebel Assault II, Rookie One ejects from his B-Wing after being shot down by a V-38 Phantom TIE Fighter.
  • Steel Battalion would delete your save if you didn't use the molly-guarded Big Red Button on the insanely expensive custom controller to bail out of your Humongous Mecha.
  • Ejection seats play a role in Super Robot Wars games from time to time, usually to explain how someone survived getting a mech shot down. Super Robot Wars X is notable in that it invokes this trope to neatly sidestep the implications of having a grade-schooler mow down human pilots instead of the cuddly robot soldiers from his home series.
  • Titanfall's titular Mini-Mecha come equipped with these. Triggering it takes a little bit of Button Mashing, and if you fail to activate it in time then you either die when your Titan explodes or when an enemy Titan performs an execution (ripping you out of the cockpit). One of the equippable abilities makes your ejection seat trigger automatically, while also giving you a temporary Invisibility Cloak when it does.
    • Another popular option is the Nuclear Ejection.
    • Players are also actively encouraged to fire upon ejecting pilots: one in game challenge explicitly tracks how many pilots you've killed this way.
  • Featured prominently in the Wing Commander series. Ejecting means that you just failed every remaining objective (because your wingman Can't Go On Without You), but it can occasionally be a wise move, especially if you don't like Save Scumming. Ejection in many missions, however, was still a loss. And one Kilrathi ace in particular was known for shooting up ejected pilots. In the cartoon Wing Commander Academy, the ejection was via an enclosed pod, not just one's seat.
  • Used as a continue mechanic for the X-Wing and Tie Fighter series. If near friendly forces when shot down, your pilot can eject and be recovered. If the primary objectives were completed, it would even count as a victory (albeit with a sharp penalty to the final score for losing your fighter). However, ejecting near enemy forces would cause your pilot to be captured and interrogated, and the ejection seat system could be damaged, causing your character's actual death instead of ejection.

  • Batman: Wayne Family Adventures: Duke accidentally ejects Stephanie from the Batmobile when he tries to push the button to pass control of the weapons system over to her.
  • While repairing the ''Savage Chicken'' Sam and Helix of Freefall had some fun with the ejection seat. Fortunately the ship's computer was sensible enough to disable it after the second time and they put the ceiling panels back on with duct tape.
    Sam: "Explosive bolt error? Why should I care about that?!"''
    Helix: (Queries) "Two words, roof pizza."''
  • In Jix the amnesia that caused Jix to emerge from Remula's consciousness was the result of an attempted ejection while the ceiling of her ship was still closed.
  • Liquid Snake wound up in Alaska after accidentally ejecting himself from a helicopter in The Last Days of Foxhound. He then guesses that he must be in the North Pole, and wonders where the penguins are.
  • The World is Flat plays with this here.

    Western Animation 
  • In Archer episode "Training Day", Archer attempts to activate his car's ejector seat but is stopped by Cyril, who will be left in the car and be killed either by their pursuer or the now driverless car crashing at high speed.
  • Batman: The Animated Series examples:
    • The animated Batmobile does have ejector seats, as evidenced in the episode with Earl Cooper.
    • In the episode "Joker's Millions", The Joker is so poor that he could afford only one ejection seat. Boy, was Harley mad!
  • Batman in Batman: The Brave and the Bold has an ejector seat in the Batplane. He hovered a finger over the button because Plastic Man was getting on his nerves.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: One of the most famous upgrades Gadget added to her father's plane is an ejector seat, as Monty accidentally finds out.
  • Defied in Code Lyoko in the episode "Guided Missile". XANA hijacks a fighter jet that Jeremie was training for flight on. The pilot radios for two more jets to shoot it down as he and Jeremie eject. But XANA has the ejection lever locked in place, so the only thing left is for a return to the past before XANA can launch the jet's missiles at the factory.
  • Danger Mouse makes Baron Greenback's robot cat Paws trigger the Mk. III's ejector seat in "Cat-astrophe". As Paws can read DM's mind, DM uses meditation to empty his mind. This causes Paws to become weak and his hand hits the ejector button.
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode All Ducks on Deck, Launchpad accidentally pushes the ejector seat button in the invisible jet.
  • Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet splits the difference and equips the Angel Interceptors with an Escape Pod that can return to Skybase under its own power, handily averting some Fridge Logic about just how they're supposed to get back onboard (its canon cruising altitude is sixty thousand feet, so no helicopters) but if that gets shot down they have this trope to fall back on.
  • During the 1980s, the Moral Guardians were (and still are) all concerned about damaging fragile child minds, so Never Say "Die" was in full effect. This was particularly noticeable on G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Any aerial dogfight between the Joes and Cobra ended up with the loser ejecting and parachuting to safety before their plane was destroyed. This even happened with helicopters, though sometimes due to the pilot simply bailing out, rather than ejecting.
  • Godzilla: The Series similarly had every example of a military aircraft being taken down followed up either by the pilot bailing out or an ejector seat shooting out to make sure the audience (and more importantly, Moral Guardians) knows Everybody Lives. This also extended to helicopters in some cases.
  • The Javelins used in Justice League Unlimited have ejector pods.
  • Justice League Action:
    • A possessed Batman uses the Batmobile's ejector seat to launch Green Arrow into a river.
    • Space Cabbie's cab has a spring-loaded seat in case of rowdy passengers. Granny Goodness learns this the hard way.
    • While flying a jet, Batman is talked down to by the Goddess Athena. He scowls as he contemplates hitting the Eject button on her seat.
  • The Hummingbird mecha suits from The Legend of Korra have these. To avoid the potential issue of getting the copilot killed because the pilot left flying, both occupants have independent toggle switches for both seats. Which sadly makes Hiroshi's Heroic Sacrifice possible.
  • Looney Tunes: When Wile E. Coyote builds a Weaponized Car to catch the Road Runner in "Sugar and Spies", it includes an ejection seat. You can probably guess how useful this proves to him.
  • The M.A.S.K. semi-trailer truck, Rhino, sports a side ejection seat for the passenger side, which was functional in the toy.
  • The first season finale of Megas XLR features one of these, with the button "Bet You Can't Guess What This Button Does". Next season, there was an "Eject Skippy" button, conveniently anticipating where the annoying kid would be sitting.
  • A variation was used at the end of the first act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Bogunda, Bogetta & Bogus", where Bogus activates a switch on the jeep, which causes the jeep to eject Ratty into the air when Ratty starts to sit down in said jeep.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Elementary, My Dear Stacey", Agent "Double 0" 0's car has an ejector seat. Agent P triggers it.
  • The ending to The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror X" has Bart and Homer on a rocket filled with second-rate celebrities headed straight toward the sun. Rather than deal with their singing, Homer ejects himself and Bart into space, where they explode with a happy sigh.
    Bart: Don't worry, Dad, we'll be dead in five minutes.
    • Earlier, in "Treehouse of Horror IX", Bart and Lisa are stuck in an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon where the title characters are trying to kill them. They get picked up by a police car, only to find that Itchy and Scratchy are driving. Bart then draws an "Eject" button and presses it so he and Lisa can escape.
  • An episode of The Smokey Bear Show had one character installing an ejector seat in another character's newly acquired sports car and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Space Ghost: Jan and Jayce's little space coupe has ejector seats.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Bounty Hunters", Anakin crashes the ship he's piloting on Felucia in order to get the vulture droids in pursuit to crash as well. He, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka eject before that happens.
  • Star Wars Resistance:
    • "Fuel for the Fire": Kaz saves Rucklin from his racing ship, which is about to explode due to being fuelled with too much dangerous hyperfuel, via the ejection seat. Unfortunately, Rucklin had the parachute removed because he didn't think it was necessary for racing, seeing it as extraneous weight, so BB-8 has to catch them with his suction cable, and then Kaz's boss Yeager has to help pull them up. Not that Rucklin is grateful.
    • "The Platform Classic": During the race, Griff Halloran is forced to bail from his racer this way after he misses the reignition ring at the end of the gliding section and his ship heads for the ocean.
  • Steven Universe: In "Space Race", the ejector seats in Pearl's prototype spaceships serve as vehicles for the Aesop: "Sometimes you've just gotta know when to bail."
  • In Storm Hawks, Properly Paranoid Crazy-Prepared Stork builds the Storkmobile. Among other safety features is an ejector seat. Because, as Stork says, "You always need an ejector seat."
  • The SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron Turbo Kat plane has ejector seats for both T-Bone and Razor. The seats could fly independently for some time, and were shown re-docking with the plane in a few cases.
  • Taz-Mania: One gets installed in the family mini-van (without the Devil's knowledge) in "Yet Another Road to Tazmania". Taz is accidentally ejected from the car while Hugh is trying to turn on the air conditioning.
  • Total Drama: Izzy makes her way into the cockpit of the Total Drama Jumbo Jet in "Can't Help Falling in Louvre" and starts pushing buttons. This causes the plane to crash into the Seine right next to the Louvre. It's only when it's come to a full stop that Izzy activates the ejection seat, which launches her up into a salto from which she falls down onto the nose of the plane and bumps off of it into the river. She continues laughing even as she sinks.
  • Total DramaRama: In "Last Mom Standing", Chef's Mom and Leshawna's Grandma take their sweet-off to the sky and forcibly drag the children along. The planned-for expressions of affection readily devolve into aerial combat, which ends in a game of chicken as the two women fly their planes towards each other. At the last moment, they both decide to not risk death and activate the ejection seats. Everybody gets out before the planes crash into each other, but as they parachute to the ground more sweet-off surprises prove to be a danger.
  • Brock Sampson of The Venture Bros. owns a '69 Charger with an ejection seat.
    • The OSI flashback scene features a parody of the above G.I. Joe example, where the ejecting pilot is shot seconds later.
  • In the "Rhode Island Road Race" episode of Wacky Races, Penelope Pitstop uses her ejector seat to expel Dick Dastardly.
  • Freddy installs an ejection seat in the desert racing episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo?.

    Real Life 
  • In real life, 20% of aircraft ejections result in the pilot sustaining career-ending injuries, such as death. Also, 100% of aircraft ejections result in the pilot losing several inches of height, due to the sudden compression of being flung out of your plane at anywhere from 12 to 22 Gs (depending on what ejection seat your plane was equipped with). Most air forces impose a career limit on the number of ejections permissible (and that limit is usually one) before it's desk job city for you. Indeed pilots don't eject at the first hint of trouble, either. Considerable effort is first put into slowing the aircraft because at supersonic or just plain fast speeds the wind the pilot is slamming into could possibly rip the mask off of a pilot's face and ram air down his esophagus, inflating his stomach like a balloon, which makes simply impacting the ground sans parachute sound like a better option. Slowing down to a more reasonable speed to eject into is a good idea, if you can do it. A 200 mph wind is about the fastest nature throws at us. 600 mph is unnatural. The conventional wisdom among pilots is to eject only if not ejecting will kill you.
  • Note that in one extraordinary case, not only the pilot survived the ejection, but so did the aircraft, as it managed to land sans pilot, and sustained so little damage that it was returned to service. (See here for more details). Even more here. Definitely a "Truth is stranger than fiction" moment.
  • There were also downward firing ejection seats which were fitted due to fears of seats not being fast enough to clear the tailplane of some jets. Naturally this made low altitude ejections a bit of a hazard requiring the pilot to roll his aircraft before ejecting. And when these were replaced by improved seats which fired upwards, they forgot to tell the pilots, leading to a few cases where the pilot would correctly roll the aircraft and eject straight into the ground.
    • Many modern ejector seats are "vertical-seeking", meaning you can eject at any angle including upside-down, and the chair will automatically turn itself upright after leaving the aircraft and propel itself upward with a rocket motor. This allows for safer inverted ejections at low altitudes, giving more altitude for the parachute to deploy and ensuring the seat doesn't simply launch itself into the ground. This composite timelapse photo shows one such seat being tested.
  • Before ejection seats were invented, escaping an aircraft by "bailing out" was even more dangerous. If you were lucky, there was a control that would blast off the canopy with explosive charges. If not, you had to open the canopy yourself, either climb out or roll the aircraft over and fall out, and essentially perform an impromptu skydive. Unlike a normal skydive however, the aircraft is likely to be violently spinning and rapidly losing altitude due to loss of engines, control surfaces, entire wings, or all of the above. If the plane was flying low enough or couldn't be controlled at all, many pilots chose to stay in their planes and die instantly in the crash instead of risk bailing out and dying a slower, more horrible death. At least 50% died on the way out (not counting the ones who didn't make it out at all), and only around a quarter made it back home safely, the rest of the survivors either being taken prisoner or horribly wounded. Early-model Messerschmitt Bf 109s and Bell P-39 Airacobras were notoriously difficult to bail out of because the wind would literally hold the side-folding canopy shut, making it almost impossible to escape the plane. Production Airacobras didn't have sliding canopies, they had doors, but that didn't make them easier to bail out, for a different reason. The relative positions of the cockpit door and the stabilizer effectively made sure that if any pilot taller than a midget would forget to take a fetal position after bailing out, his legs will be broken by a stabilizer, this usually being a career ending injury even if the pilot managed to land on his own territory and was saved by the groung troops. More than a few pilots suffered such a misfortune, the most famous of them being a Soviet ace Boris Glinka (29 victories).
  • The Lockheed P-38 Lightning, likewise, had a nasty habit of killing or permanently injuring anybody attempting to bail out of it. The plane basically had 2 fuselages, with a boom-like horizontal stabilizer stretching the entire width between them. Bailing out of the cockpit (located in the middle between the 2 fuselages) would likely slam you into the boom, whether you curled into a fetal position or not.
  • The B-24 Liberator heavy bomber was virtually impossible to bail out. It had only one door, at the tail, and the catwalk was too narrow to even walk through while wearing a parachute, much less run while the plane is going down. It also had a tendency to break up on hitting water due to the design of the wing.
  • The first generation of fighter jets such as the F-80 Shooting Star and F-84 Thunderjet made ejection seats indispensable. Pilots attempting to bail out now had a very significant chance of being unable to get out of the way before the plane would catch up with them. In fact, on faster airplanes, the slipstream, the layer of air traveling around the plane's body, could actually pull the pilot up against the plane once he left the cockpit (the same problem also applies to things like missiles or bombs, requiring a bit of engineering on how to get them to leave the plane once you dropped them).
  • While ejection seat designs had been experimented with since 1916, the first practical designs were developed by Heinkel in Germany (1940, while working on a jet fighter prototype) and Saab in Sweden (1941, while developing the Saab 21 twin boom pushing propeller fighter). The Germans employed ejection seats on their experimental jet types (first emergency use, January 1942) and were the earliest to install them on production models. The first aircraft built with ejection seats was the Heinkel He 219, a nightfighter, which had its engines so close to the fuselage that the propeller tips reached within a foot of the cockpit, just aft of the pilot's seat (first combat ejection, April 1944). Another German type needing bangseats, although it never entered production, The was the Dornier Do 335, which had two propellers, one pulling in the front, the other pushing in the rear, just in the right place to mince a pilot (although the ejection sequence had this propeller jettisoned as well).
  • Spare a thought for the early Soviet VDV, who, lacking cargo aircraft with such bourgeois luxuries as enclosed fuselages, had to deploy like this all the time.
  • Tom Wolfe, in The Right Stuff, descibes a harrowing account Chuck Yeager had with an experimental rocket-powered aircraft, which malfunctioned at a very, very high altitude - he ejected when there was no hope of regaining control, and while airborne was hit by the seat and severely burned on the face and hand by its propellant. He makes it down alive and mobile, but horrifies the young motorist who finds him with his injuriesnote .
  • The American Gemini spacecraft had extra-strong ejection seats that were designed not only to blast the astronaut clear of the spacecraft, but outside the danger zone of a potential launcher fire, and high enough for a parachute to work. They were never used, and would probably have permanently crippled the user. There was a situation where some thought it might be used, the abort of Gemini 6 just after engine start. But commander Walter Schirra trusted his instincts and didn’t pull the eject lever and the rocket didn’t explode. It was eventually repaired and launched fine. This design was unusual: most manned spacecraft have used a Launch Escape System consisting of a solid fuel rocket in a tower connected to the crew capsule. If the launcher is about to explode or otherwise fail catastrophically, the crew capsule is detached and the LES activated to put it at a safe distance. The LES is typically jettisoned when the spacecraft nears orbit. This has only ever been used for real once, with a couple of other similar aborts:
    • The two-man crew of Soyuz T-10-1, waiting for a trip to Salyut 7 in 1983, were ejected clear of their launcher just before a fire destroyed it.
    • In 1975, another Soyuz mission had its capsule ejected while heading for orbit as the third stage was deviating too much, but by then they had already jettisoned the LES and the crew capsule was sent clear by the explosive bolts detaching it from the launcher.
    • Similarly In October 2018, the crew of Soyuz MS-10 were subjected to "six or seven times Earth's gravity" when they used the launch escape rockets on their capsule's fairing to get away from the the Soyuz-FG rocket that was literally disintegrating beneath them several minutes into launch. It turns out that the outer rocket stages were not properly connected to the core stage and one of them collided with it during stage separation. They had to use the fairing rockets because the LES tower had already been jettisoned. In honor of it having saved the crew's lives, the descent module they returned in was later placed on display in front of the headquarters of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
    • During an early test of the Gemini ejection sequence, the hatches failed to blow off before the ejection seats slammed into them. Astronaut John Young commented, "A hell of a headache. But a short one."
  • In a case of ejection by design, Yuri Gagarin, on the world's first manned space flight, actually ejected from his Vostok capsule and landed separately by parachute. This was covered up for many years, as the FAI rules of the time required a pilot to land with his capsule for the flight to count. Gagarin, dressed in a bright orange spacesuit, landed next to a man and his daughter, having to explain he wasn't an alien, he was a fellow Soviet and needed to find a telephone. The soviets kept it a secret that they hadn't figured out how to make the Vostok capsules land survivably and pretended that the cosmonauts usually, with a few exceptions, landed with their spacecraft, when in reality the only way to survive was to eject. The next generation of Soviet spacecraft, the Voskhods, had an improved combination of parachutes and braking rockets that made a soft landing possible. This made the ejection seat unnecessary and a two- or three-man crew could be fitted in the capsule.
  • The KA-50 Alligator/Black Shark (NATO Reporting Name: Hokum) is probably the first combat helicopter to be fitted with ejection seats. Obviously, with two rotors on top of it, it is very easy to get blended into chunky meat sauce when ejecting, so the design also detonates charges built into the helicopter rotors axles just before the ejection seat activates.
  • Shooting an airman after they're ejected or otherwise left a stricken aircraft is a war crime. This was generally respected in World War II by all sides, even (most of the time) on the Eastern Front. But Polish pilots in the Royal Air Force had to be frequently brought to book for seeking to kill German aircrew who had bailed out — they generally loathed the Germans so much that they considered the fight was not over till the pilot was dead. Some British pilots justified shooting at a bailed-out Luftwaffe pilot with the simple cold calculation that the Germans could quickly replace an aircraft — it took time, money and experience to make a good pilot, and to make sure he was dead would really harm the German war effort, especially if he bailed out where his own side could recover him. This attitude was rare, however, and besides, it is difficult and expends too much ammo to make sure of getting a man hanging under a parachute.
    • Although during the Battle of Britain, some British pilots thought nothing of shooting down seaplanes tasked with recovering German pilots who came down in the Channel. Derek Robinson fictionalises these varying attitudes in his black comedy of the Battle of Britain, A Piece of Cake.
      • According to some, however, German pilots were justifiable targets over large areas of water such as the English Channel, because it's hard to grasp just how cold the North Atlantic is during the winter and/or at night, and in fact considerable research was in progress on both sides to improve flight suit insulation to prevent bailed pilots from simply freezing to death.
    • The Japanese had no such compunctions against such actions, however, and were known to regularly gun down Allied pilots in their chutes. In at least one case, an American fighter came across a Japanese pilot and, after engaging him in a brief fight, sufficiently crippled the aircraft that the Japanese pilot tried to bail out, but as payback for the helpless aircrew gunned down in their chutes the American fired a warning shot into the wing as he started to climb out of his cockpit. The Japanese pilot got the message, climbed back into his seat, and rode the plane the rest of the way down.
  • The mini-escape pod versions where the entire cockpit is ejected is Truth in Television for some craft such and the General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark.
  • In some rare instances an aircraft will have an ejection seat that drops the pilot downward instead of launching him upward. Infamously this was the case for early models of the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, as initially no ejection seats were available that would launch a pilot fast enough to guarantee he'll clear the fairly tall T-shaped tail of an F-104. The downward ejection seat eliminated that risk (and as an incidental benefit mean the extreme acceleration of conventional upward ejection seats wouldn't happen. But it had the very obvious downside that a pilot could only eject at high altitude. Given that among the most common times for something to go wrong in an aircraft are during takeoff or landing and the F-104 had notoriously tricky handling at low altitude, this was the cause of quite a few pilots' deaths. When more advanced upward-ejecting seats became available, those were installed on the later models, though they were speed-limited and thus if something when wrong at high speed (the F-104 was very fast) the pilot would have little chance of escape.
    • Another example of an aircraft with downward-ejecting seats is the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, but only for some of the crew. The B-52 has an enormous double-decker cockpit and the navigator sits on the lower deck, directly below the bombardier and electronic systems operator. Thus having him eject upward would be impossible, and his seat simply drops through the floor when ejecting. If time and altitude allow, the other 4 crew can climb down a ladder and bail out through the hole where the navigator's seat was, as this is less dangerous than being launched upward at over 12G. And if any observers are along for the flight, they would do the same as they'd be sitting behind the navigator without an ejection seat.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ejector Seat



When the Kids Next Door are under attack by a giant mutant turnip, Numbuh One has Numbuh Three summon her bunny inspired mecha H.I.P.P.I.E.-H.O.P. to save them.

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Main / NegatedMomentOfAwesome

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