Lightening Fast: The Ejector Seat

Jolyon Webber takes a look at the BAC Lightning’s seating, marrying function with beauty

 photographed by Sam HarrisManufactured by the Martin Baker Aircraft Company, pioneers in the ejector seat field, this example is taken from an English Electric Lightning (later renamed BAC Lightning) of around 1962, one of the most remarkable interceptor jets of the Cold War era. Its primary role was to prevent bombers and reconnaissance aircraft from completing missions, with astonishing speed and firepower.

Said by pilots to be like riding a rocket, it was the first aircraft able to perform supercruise – sustained supersonic flight, a feature most commonly used in Concorde. An RAF pilot was once grounded in the 70s for cruising past the now defunct supersonic passenger jet whilst flying at 56,000ft. Speed indeed.

Photography Sam HarrisThe-Ejector-Seat info box