The first-ever use of an ejection seat with a human being in the ejection seat occurred on this day in aviation history. Bernard Lynch was ejected from a Gloster Meteor Mk III at 320 mph.
The history of the ejection seat traces back to Sir James Martin, an Irish immigrant, that started building aircraft in 1929. While producing the MB1 aircraft (click here for more info)
Sir Martin became friends with Captain Valentine Baker. This friendship was the seed that grew into the Martin-Baker company. Capt. Baker had a huge flying experience that helped the company in developing and testing the companies aircraft.
While Capt. Baker was test flying the MB3 prototype in 1942 its engine seized and he was forced to make an emergency landing. During the landing a wingtip struck a tree resulting in a crash landing, killing Capt Baker. The death of his friend hugely affected Sir James Martin, and he dedicated the rest of his The MB3 Prototype
life and the company to increasing pilot safety.
This led to the development of what we now know as the Martin-Baker Ejection Seat. During the development of the first ejection seats, initial trials were made as static trials. A fitter of the Martin-Baker company would be strapped in a rejection seat on top of a specially build tower and would be "ejected", this fitter was Bernard Lynch. The first time one of these “static ejections“ was carried out was on the 24th of January 1945.
On the 24th of July it was time for the *real thing”. A specially modified Gloster Meteor 3 carried him up to 8000 ft, with the aircraft stabilised at a speed of 280 knots he ejected, and became the first men ever to eject from a aircraft.
It would be the first of many test ejections with Bernard Lynch as test subject.
The first ’live’ ejection out of an aircraft was on the 30th May 1949 over the town of Southam, Warwickshire. Jo Lancaster who was flying an Armstrong Whitworth AW52 aircraft and was forced to eject using a using a pre-Mk1 ejection seat.
Since that day more then 7500 aircrew were saved by using a Martin-Baker ejection seat!