Or, as they say on Twitter, “TIL.”
The Grumman EA-6B Prowler is a four place electronic warfare plane that specializes in jamming enemy radars and communications.
Like virtually all tactical jets, the crew rides on ejection seats.
In the video above, you’ll see all four seats fire at intervals of about half a second. If you look carefully, you see that they fire the back seats first, then the front seats. Additionally, the seats fire at a very slight angle outboard from the aircraft to generate separation between the seats. To cause the seats to angle outboard, the rocket motor is very slightly off centerline of the seat. Having the thrust line off centerline causes the angle of flight.
Here’s a picture of a test of the S-3B Viking, with a similar 4 seat ejection.
What I learned today was that the firing handles of the various seats in the Prowler were color coded so the seat maintainers could ensure the proper seat was installed in the proper location in the cockpit.
The GRUEA-7 Ejection Seats are simply superb—all I did was attach brass handles. On the Prowler, the firing mechanisms on top of the ejection seats are color coded to help the aviators ensure that the correct seat has been installed. The seats were painted the appropriate colors, (white for the left rear seat; orange for the right rear seat; purple for the right front seat; brown for the left front seat) and installed.
Sadly, in the video above, the pitching motion of the Prowler as it went off the bow caused the pilot’s seat to collide with another seat, killing the pilot. The three Electronic Countermeasures Officers (ECMOs) were recovered.