April 29, 2016

Watch Royal Canadian Air Force test an ejection seat from the back of a Dodge Ram

Any day is a good day when you can speed a Dodge Ram pickup truck down a military runway before launching a rocket-powered ejection seat into the sky.

Royal Canadian Air Force Officer Maj. Lonny Handwork did exactly that in an equipment test Thursday afternoon at the CFB Cold Lake.

"I get the honour of being behind the wheel, so I'm pretty excited about that," Handwork said during a Thursday morning interview on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"It's one of the few advantages of being the project officer for this. I'm kind of the boss, so I pulled rank and I get the place of honour today."

At exactly 1:00 p.m., a high powered pickup — with an ejection seat mounted on its flatbed — hurtled down the runway at more than 140 km/h.

In a matter of seconds, the seat's rocket motors ignited, launching the seat into the air.

"The event is over pretty quickly," Handwork said. "There's an acceleration of the vehicle down the runway and there is a very loud bang."

12-second test could help upgrade existing ejection seats

Of course, the seat's occupant won't be alive; a crash test dummy of sorts will be used in the dramatic feat, and spectators will be viewing from a close, but safe distance.

"The whole event takes about 12 seconds. The dummy goes in the air on the rocket-propelled catapult, about 100 to 130 feet up into the air, depending on the day. And then the parachute system is initiated and he comes down under that," Handwork said.


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