Jet passenger tells of fall from 3,000ft: Ejector-seat malfunctioned during victory roll

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The Independent Online
A MAN walked out of hospital yesterday 24 hours after he was catapulted from an aircraft at 3,000ft.

Des Moloney, 28, was upside down during a 240mph victory roll when the ejector seat in his brother's Provost jet trainer malfunctioned and threw him out of the aircraft. Then his parachute failed to open fully.

Despite landing heavily on a verge outside a Sainsbury's store in Colchester, Essex, he sustained only minor injuries.

Before leaving hospital yesterday, Mr Moloney, wearing a neck brace, said: 'I knew I was in big trouble because I was not in the aeroplane, which was a bit of a shock.'

He added: 'There was a kind of jolt. I felt the ejection seat move through the canopy. I was in the seat for a few seconds then I was away from the seat and I was free falling.

'I thought to myself, 'I don't want to really deal with this'. I reached for the ripcord and pulled it. The parachute opened. That was good. It was then I actually got my bearings. I could see the ground, I could see cars.

'Unfortunately the bottom strap of the harness of the parachute came unattached and the harness increasingly pushed up and it was quite scary as I couldn't breath after a while. The last 20 seconds I couldn't breath at all. I hit the ground quite well - no problems there - then a 14-year-old boy came over and asked me for my parachute.'

Mr Moloney, who had never made a parachute landing before, now plans to celebrate with 'an Easter egg and a few beers'. His brother, Tom, 31, who was at the controls of the two-seater when the accident happened, circled for several minutes to try to spot his brother.

He said: 'Flying around in the air space with a huge hole; my brother's gone, the seat's gone, everything's gone.' He landed the jet 20 miles away at North Weald airport after putting out an emergency call.

He said: 'I had honestly thought I was never going to see him again . . . when I found out that he was alive, I just couldn't believe it.'

He said that when the brothers, both from Chobham in Surrey, were reunited, 'we kissed each other like real men and cried.'

(Photograph omitted)

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