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Royal Air Force

 

Flt Lt Chris Hooper

 ZF270

13th May 1996

Royal Air Force

Flt Lt Chris Hooper

 

Magdi "Dode" Dahroug

 

 

 My name is Magdi Dahroug (usually known as Dode) and I was the student who ejected from the Tucano on 13th May 1996.  The Tucano was ZF270 and we were on the ride before my progress check.  We were at 12500' and started spinning.  On the 4th turn I called the height (12400') closed the throttle.  At that point there was a large bang and my cockpit filled with smoke.  I said "Oh sh!t" and my instructor (Flt Lt Chris Hooper, ex-Shackletons, now retired) said "Jesus Christ!", although I thought he said "I have control" (wishful thinking, eh?).

 

I saw a fire over the canopy and this quite worried me.  Chris pulled the emergency shutdown lever and the fire went out.  It's absolutely amazing that it really doesn't matter what is happening to your aircraft, it not being on fire is a huge relief!  I looked left through the smoke and saw a large black and white pole resting against the wing.   I later worked out that this was one of the prop blades as the entire engine had swung around to the left and stopped against the wing.  Chris said "Give me Guard please" (most polite chap!) and I found the radio and switched to Guard.   I started to cough and distinctly remember thinking "I'm in a crashing aeroplane and I'm going to suffocate!"  I then went to 100% oxygen and the smoke started to clear.   I said to Chris "I'm tightening my straps" indicating my intention to eject and he said that was a good idea.  At that point I remembered a piece of advice from the pilot of my first sortie in an ejection seat, Flt Lt Gary Waterfall of ex-Harrier display fame - don't tighten the shoulder straps.   My thanks go out to Gary for this as I am still walking thanks to his advice.  Having initially been in a right-hand spin I noted we were now in a left hand spiral, so I assumed that Chris had some semblance of control.   He said that we'd go down to 2000' and eject there, which I found to be a reasonable suggestion.  I adopted the ejection posture and closed my eyes.   Chris said "Bugger this, I'm off" and ejected.  One and a half seconds is a bloody long time to be sat alone, but I eventually ejected (not sure on whether it was command or me pulling the handle - gas traces were inconclusive) and found myself in the parachute. It was a beautiful day with fields all around and I made possibly the worst parachute landing in the history of aviation.   A Sea King picked us up within minutes and took us to hospital in Hull.  We were in the bar that night and flying again in a week and a half.

 

Dode

in email 3rd June 1996