Twice in his naval career Bob Noziglia had reason to thank the manufacturers and maintainers of his Escapac ejection seats.

Below Bob shares his experiences of these two events.

   First Ejection
   

17th January 1984

TA-7C Corsair II

154410
NJ-203

VA-122
NAS Fallon

Engine failure

Douglas Escapac

 

 

LCDR Robert "Bob"
E. Nozgilia Jr.

   Second Ejection:
27th June 1985 USN A-7E Corsair II 160540
NL-301
VA-97
NAS Lemoore
Engine failure on approach Douglas Escapac

 
 

 

AS I contemplate the ceiling of my hospital room, flat in bed with a broken back, I'm trying to convince myself that I'm lucky! Another minute and a half and I would have been on deck; however, my engine came unglued in the landing pattern and I made it out right on the edge of the envelope. It also seems that getting out low and slow can turn out to be pretty hazardous to your health. Why am I lucky then? The lead sled that was one minute a slick, lean A-7E was 15 seconds later a smoldering mass of metal laying in a cotton field. Doesn't sound very lucky, but I'm alive to tell about it, should have no complications and should be back in the saddle in six to nine months. But how could I have gotten through this mess without a busted back?

My day started out as a beautiful California morning, just perfect for flying. The nearest cloud was forecast to be in Texas and I couldn't wait to do some aviating. With a cruise-hardened veteran as my wingman, we conducted a comprehen­sive brief, covering emergency situations and real world tactical threat scenarios. The flight included a low level awareness training segment through the high desert country of the Sierras, and into the Nevada target complex for a variety of weapons release maneuvers. Time was getting short, so instead of air combat maneuvering I took the section home to get the aircraft turned around for the next event.

The trip hack to home plate was at intermediate altitude and afforded me the opportunity to troubleshoot electronic systems and related components. The penetration into home field was as smooth as silk with a flight breakup into the carrier landing pattern approved. I flew to midfield, broke level and waited for 220 knots. I lowered the gear and flaps, descended to 600 feet AG L and started to add a little power. As I moved the throttle forward I heard an uncomfortable, grinding, metal-on-metal sound from the engine, closely followed by the "ENG HOT" light coming on, and a lack of engine response to throttle movement. My first reaction was to lean forward to switch to manual fuel control; I was keenly aware of the lack of thrust and response from my power plant. I pressed the air ignite button but the next thing my scan picked up was 120 knots of airspeed (my planned landing speed was 137 knots) and OFF flags on every instrument.

Everything was quiet, I was coming down like a lead safe and my decision was easy. "I'm outta here!" — Body position — Body position.

I made it out, got about a swing and a half in the chute, and then smacked the ground. As soon as I stood up, I knew my back was broken, so I was not about to lie down on the uneven ground in the cotton field. Some farmers got to me right away and found a board for me to lie down on. Then I was off into the Navy system and the best medical care the military has to offer. I'm now in a body cast with a good prognosis; however, the recovery will include the next month and a half flat on my back looking at ceilings. As we say in Light Attack, "It could have been worse, it could have been raining." Lets talk about the injuries; I'm convinced that an understanding of the damages inflicted on my body could save you a similar occurrence. The injuries sustained were anterior compression fractures of the seventh and eighth thoracic vertebrae as well as fractures of several of the posterior components of the same vertebrae. This injury was received during the ejection sequence. Aircraft deceleration coupled with manipulating switches on the console caused my body to be positioned leaning forward. When the rocket motor fired, my spine was compressed with the stress point focusing on the center of my back. Basically the vertebrae were compressed together at the stress point as if they were two dry sponges being pushed together. The lower ejection seat handle in the ESCAPAC seat is recessed below the level of the seat pan and can also cause a pilot to bend forward to grasp the handle. My advice to you is think through an immediate action ejection one more time: Body position          "I'm outta here" — Body position. You just never know on what day or at what time you may have to "get lucky"

 

Thanks to Bob for permission to use his photographs and the article he wrote.