A lot of people walk into our store and become mesmerized looking at this interesting looking piece. “An electric chair…” I hear them whisper to one another; this is the moment when I feel I must intervene. “This is not an electric chair, but quite the opposite, actually”. I then have the pleasure of informing them that the seat which 5 minutes prior they saw as a morbid and dark collectible is in reality an ejection seat, a piece which was designed to save the lives of now 7,613 pilots (and counting).
This seat in particular isn’t just any seat, but it is a 1960s Martin-Baker ejection seat. The Martin-Baker Company was founded by Sir James Martin, a bright Irish engineer, and Captain Valentine Baker, a Welsh veteran pilot. Together they joined forces to create the Martin-Baker Aircraft company which, at the time, focused on innovative aircraft engineering and manufacturing.
In 1942, Captain Baker was testing a Martin-Baker MB3 prototype which sadly resulted in an engine malfunction and the death of Captain Baker upon the aircraft’s crashing. After this incident, Sir James Martin dedicated the rest of his career and life towards pilot safety. The Martin Baker company then revolutionized the world of ejector seats and became one of the main providers of pilot safety.
Our Martin-Baker ejection seat belonged to an F-4 Phantom fighter jet, an aircraft which was used substantially during the Vietnam War, saving countless pilot lives.
This unique piece is the source of much conversation in our store. Aviation aficionados and non- aficionados alike stop to contemplate the fascinating, and sometimes scary-looking, vintage Martin-Baker ejection seat. This piece is nothing to be afraid of, but instead, it should be honored and respected for its great, positive impact in the world of military aviation.