It takes an intense amount of rigorous training before a pilot is allowed to fly a fighter jet on their own. These are very expensive planes which are also complicated to fly so only the best get the opportunity to do so. Pilots also have to eject sometimes when things go wrong and they’re trained for that eventualities as well. Civilians aren’t, though, so you can imagine the horror of a 64-year-old man who was on a ride-along with the French Air Force last month when he was accidentally ejected from the jet.
Aerotime News reports that somehow, the man’s ejection seat fired and sent him out of the plane into the sky. This incident took place at the Saint-Dizier air base in northern France which is the air force’s hub for Rafale-B fighters.
That’s the twin seat version of France’s famous Rafale fighter jet. Twin seat jets are often used for observation flights in which civilians such as celebrities, government officials, and members of the media are taken up with a trained pilot at the controls.
The man’s ejection seat sequence triggered for no apparent reason when the jet was taking off and it sent him through the canopy. The pilot suffered minor cuts on his hands from the broken canopy but managed to land the jet safely. The civilian was able to parachute down to the runway but ended up injuring his back. A spokesperson for the French Air Force said that the civilian’s health now “is not a cause for concern.” The air force has also temporarily grounded its fleet of Rafale jets as it conducts an investigation into the matter.