Here’s why USAF F-4 Crew Members who Ejected two times from a Phantom II were Grounded and Never Flew an F-4 Again

Here’s why USAF F-4 Crew Members who Ejected two times from a Phantom II were Grounded and Never Flew an F-4 Again

By Dario Leone
Jan 9 2022
Share this article

For USAF F-4 crew members who eject a second time from a Phantom II there was a very special punishment.

In a military aircraft, an ejection seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. In most designs, the aircraft canopy comes off and the seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it. Once clear of the aircraft, the ejection seat deploys a parachute. In two seat aircraft, the seats are ejected at different angles to avoid a collision.

Before ejection seats, pilots would have to remove the aircraft canopy manually to climb and jump out.

Ejection seats can save lives.

Does a military pilot get some kind of punishment if he ejects from a plane?

F-4 model
This model is available AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

David Ecale, who served in the US Air Force, explains on Quora;

‘For F-4 pilots who eject a second time from an F-4, there is a very special punishment:

THEY ARE GROUNDED AND WILL NEVER FLY AN F4 AGAIN!

‘Who gives them this punishment? Their boss? Nope! The Board of Inquiry? Nope! The Flight Surgeon? Yup!

‘You see, ejection from an F-4 permanently compresses your spine. Two times & you’re done! (Note the profile of the WSO [the photo depicts a US Navy Phantom II hence the backseater was called RIO] in this picture. That’s some serious acceleration. You can actually see the compression in action.)

Here’s why USAF F-4 Crew Members who Ejected two times from a Phantom II were Grounded and Never Flew an F-4 Again

‘WSOs get grounded, too!

‘I was at Luke AFB when the Base Commander ejected. I watched him get wheeled into the Hospital ER on a gurney. … It was his second F-4 bailout.’

By contrast there was not a two-ejection limit for US Navy Phantom II crews as explains John Chesire, former F-4 and F-14 Tomcat pilot;

‘While the two-ejection limit was true for the Air Force, it was not true for the US Navy. I once knew and flew with a Navy RIO who had five ejections. Only the first four were successful. (Lt. David J. “Goose” Lortscher. His callsign Goose later became the RIO character’s callsign in the movie, Top Gun.)’

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

VF-31 F-4 Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-4J Phantom II VF-31 Tomcatters, AC106 / 157307 / Mig Kill – 1972

Share this article

Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article


Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.



    Share this article
    Back to top
    This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate.
    Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices