R. Ceylon AF
[RCyAF]
 

Jet Provost Mk.3 (S.51)

 

1st February 1960

RAF Negombo
Katunayake, Ceylon
Pilot Officer Noel Harold Lokuge

                     Ceylon's First Ejectee



                                               photo via
Squadron Leader N. H. Lokuge
Pilot Officer
Noel Harold Lokuge

 

My Career dates back to 1951. I joined the R.Cy A F and was sent to RAF HALTON as an aircraft apprentice. In 1954 I qualified as a Junior Tech. In 1957 selected as a Flight Cadet to do basic flying training on chipmunk aircraft. Advanced training as an Officer Cadet on the Balliol aircraft.

Commissioned as a Pilot Officer in 1959.

 

Sent to RAF MANBY for refresher course in 1961 and later to RAF Little Rissington to do the Flying Instructors course at the Central Flying School.

        The young Cadet Noel Lokuge

 

Retired from the airforce in 1976 after 25 years of service.

Joined the Maldive Government as their Chief Pilot. Operated in Commercial Flying with Air Maldives and The Presidents Pilot For ten years. Left Maldives in 1986.

 

Tie Club Member No. 57

The Royal Ceylon Air Force had just bought 12 Jet Provost Mk 3 Aircraft in late 1959/60. They were the armed version and they called them the S51(as I remember)

They were purchased from the Hunting Aircraft Company, and A test pilot named Jack Aubury (I hope I got his name right) was sent to convert the young pilots of the R.CY. A. F.

I believe that Jack met with an accident while testing a Mk2 jet provost whilst doing an inverted spin. I believe he lost his life.

We the young pilots did not take long to convert onto the Jet provost aircraft. It was a big leap from Flying the Baulton Paul Baliols, which were fitted with Rolls Royce Merlin Engines . These aircraft were overpowered and many went to their doom when they torque stalled.

One fine day, I was No3, in a formation of 6 JP,s practising for the independence day fly past, which was on the 4th of February.

Soon after take off and at about 1000ft up I noticed that my aircraft was falling out of the formation. I realised my engine had flamed out, I tried two relights but unfortunately the engine did not respond. By that time I had to turn the aircraft away from the Negombo Town, a highly populated town, and glided the aircraft to a safe area over the Negombo lagoon.

 I lost a lot of height at the same time. When I was clear and at 350 ft I used the face blind handle and ejected.

 

At first I waited until the canopy got released, (this was the longest second of my life) Then, I was shot out of the Aircraft

I felt a tumbling sensation, and then I think I blacked out. next I found myslf hanging on my parachute, but only for a few seconds because I hit the water and went under, My next nightmare was to release the Clip on my parachute buckle, which I did under water. The rest was a routine which we had practiced many times and maybe my subconcious mind took over, for I went for my life jacket CO2 bottle, and as I surfaced I pulled the cord of my Dinghy inflated it and got on board. As I was floating on my Dinghy I noticed a few aircraft overhead. I was towed to shore by some fishermen. Later I ended up in The RAF hospital at RAF Negombo. As I did not have any injuries I was out of hospital in the evening. The next day I had to fly again in a Jet Provost with our chief Flying instructor. (I believe this is normal procedure after an accident)

Extracts and photos provided by Noel Lokuge
February 2007

 Thanks to Squadron Leader N. H. Lokuge of the SriLanka Air Force for permission to include his ejection details

Project: Get Out and Walk February 2007