On January 13, 1942, somewhere over Germany, test pilot Helmut Schenck was aboard a prototype of the HE-280 aircraft when things went badly. Shortly thereafter he became the first person to use an ejection seat to escape from a crippled aircraft. It was a simple system powered only by compressed air but it possibly saved his life. Modern ejection seat systems are much more sophisticated but no less vital.
On Sunday, January 14, 2024, the Wings of the North Air Museum will celebrate the ejection seat by opening the museum to the public from 11am to 3pm for no admission charge! Also, the first 20 children age 12 or younger will receive a free toy airplane.
The museum displays three examples of ejection seats. One is from a Korean War era F-86H Sabre Jet, one is from the Vietnam era F-4 Phantom II, and another is the downward firing (yes, downward!) navigator’s seat from a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.
On hand to speak with the public from noon to 1:30pm will be two ejection seat experts. Air Force veteran Chris Glaeser actually used a seat to escape from a crippled F-104 Starfighter when he was an instructor at the US Air Force Test Pilot School. The other is an expert on parachutes, ejection seats, survival equipment, and other aviation systems.