Today’s story is about one of those pioneers in aerospace industry, concretely about a very known company that revolutionized the history of aviation, not with iconic planes, not with powerful thrusters or revolutionary structures, yet with seats.
However, Martin-Baker born as a plane manufacturer in the thirties being a collaboration between the engineer James Martin and the captain Valentine-Baker. The idea behind this enterprise was the creation of planes that were used to test new structures and patents. Things were good and during the Second World War, Martin-Baker was dedicated to provide armored seats for the iconic Supermarine Spitfire (Someday we could talk about this celebrity) of the Royal Air Force.
During this time, Martin-Baker was (even before the Germans) testing a new thing for aviation that we all have very assumed today, and that is the ejectable seats. Whatever, they were not dedicating it the importance it deserved until tragedy happened.
Unfortunately, during a test flight of their M.B.3 prototype in 1942, Captain Valentine Baker deceased during an emergency landing. This affected that much in James Martin that the primary focus of his work became the safety of the pilot, lately redirecting all the company work into the design of ejectable seats.
It was in 1944 when the Ministry of Aircraft Productions of Great Britain asked James Martin for the possibility of ejectable seats for the newly jet fighters of the Royal Air force. Martin-Baker determined that the best idea was to aid the ejection with explosive charges and the challenge became to determinate which were the maximum of thrust (Commonly related as “g” forces) that the human body could afford.
Finally, in 1946, Bernard Lynch became the first human ejected from a plane in movement, over 500km/h IAS and 8000 feet from the ground Lynch ejected from a RAF Gloster Meteor.
Since 1946, the company’s seats have saved 7.613 lives, over 6.000 became members of the “Ejection Tie Club”, promoted by the company in 1957 everyone that survives with a Martin-Baker seat receives an tie, patch, certificate, tie pin and membership card for those whose lives have been saved by a Martin-Baker ejection seat, making it one of the most reserved clubs.
Martin-Baker history is one of those that teaches how tragedies lead to great advances in science and engineering to granitize the safeness of the staff.