The Ejection Site

Seat Makers : Weber Aircraft

Weber Aircraft is one of the least known of the American ejectionseat manufacturers, yet they were one of the largest producers. Some of the seats they produced were used by the USAF in the B-47, B-52, F-101, F-102, F-106, T-37, F-15, F-16, A-10, B-1B , T-46A as well as the YF-22 prototype. For NASA, Weber provided ejection seats for the Lunar Landing Trainer Vehicle, NASA lifting bodies M2F2, HL-10 and X-24 as well as the Gemini Spacecraft (and the Apollo 3-man Crew Couch system). In all Weber manufactured some 3000+ ejection seats. Precise figures are not currently available, but it is known that several hundred aircrew saved their lives with Weber seats.

Weber Aircraft also manufactured crew seating for many different aircraft such as the C-5A, L-1011, 707, 727, 737, and the 747. The engineers at Weber were also responsible for innovations incorporated in many other seats such as the gun-deployed parachute system first incorporated into the Gemini system and later the F-106, F-105 and F-104 seats. They also designed the HBU Automatic lap belt which was used as the USAF standard for the 1960s and 1970s. Research and development was a serious effort with Weber engineers responsible for many sled tests of ejection systems as well as the only live zero-zero ejection test by an American ejection seat manufacturer.

Weber's work with NASA led to many innovative developments, including the only American ejection seats ever to orbit the earth in space. The Geminiseats were developed primarily to provide for a safe egress in the case of afailure of the recovery parachutes. The system was also to be effective on the launch pad for emergency escape. Upon initiation of the ejection sequence, thehot gasses were vectored into a set of pistons which forced the hatch doors to full open. At that point, the gasses were released into the catapult initiatorto fire the seats. The seats would exit horizontally with the astronauts on their back with a gun deployed parachute used to get quick enough deployment for a safe landing several hundred feet down range. Another unique seat usewas in the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle (LLTV). The LLTV had the appearanceof an erector set spider with a telephone booth for a head. The small boxy cockpit contained a Weber ejection seat that was used succesfully on three occasions. The first and most famous occupant to use it was Neil Armstrong.Armstrong ejected safely through the two inch Styrofoam roof and landed safely,albeit the twenty knot wind dragged him through the brush causing some minor scratches.

Joe Algranti, the chairman of Armstrong's accident review board, became the subject of one himself when he ejected safely from the second LLTV. After themachine was out of control, he stayed with the wildly gyrating platform untilit was almost horizontal (and almost on the ground) before initiating ejection.When asked later why he delayed so long, he explained that he waited for thebest trajectory launch position. The third person to eject from a LLTV was NASApilot Stuart Present. The fourth and last LLTV survived the program and was recently restored for use in the upcoming HBO / Tom Hanks movie on the space program. Neil Armstrong's ejection will be dramatized in the movie.

Weber produced the ACES II ejection seat as the 'Follower' (aka- second source)from the mid-seventies until the early nineties when the contract size for newACES IIs dropped to 1000 seats, and it was awarded to McDonnell-Douglas. Weber Aircraft then finished out the spare parts manufacture and closed the ejection seat production line.

Special thanks to Gordon Cress, formerly one of Weber's top ejection seat engineers.
Additional thanks to Weber Aircraft for permission to use the pictures and logos.
Ejection Seat Trivia An Ejection Seat Warning
Fascinating Ejection Seat Facts Underwater Ejection
Ejection from an OV-1 Mohawk
(Animated GIF)

Seat Gallery
Ejection Seat

Ejection Anecdotes
Zero-Zero Ejection
The Weber F-106 & Project 90
NASA ejection seats
Remembering the Pioneers Some Ejection Seat Links
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