I stepped off the train and the first thing that hit me was the smell. It was as if I had walked into a flower shop. I made my way off the platform and started the 0.6 mile walk to the 22-acre facility; it felt like I had stepped back in time. As I strolled along the road I kept anticipating seeing Hawker Hurricanes flying overhead. I’m not sure why, but that was the image I had conjured up. It was absolutely beautiful and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that walk.
Located at the end of this road is Martin-Baker, the world leader in designing and manufacturing ejection seats and crash worthy seating systems for aviation. They have been making ejection seats for more than 60 years. Over the course of 60 years, 7,514 lives have been saved.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of companies, but few are dealing with something as critical as Martin-Baker. Every day, military personnel from around the world are asked to put their lives on the line, or prepare/train to do so. Martin-Baker helps ensure that military aviators can safely evacuate from their aircraft should there be an emergency. As I was walking with one of their engineers, he said “you know, it is one thing to build something that will function tomorrow – it’s entirely different to build something that may not be needed for 30 years.”
What Martin-Baker manufactures is something that has to work the FIRST time and may not be needed until years down the line. I find that to be an incredible engineering marvel. The stresses of flight are brutal and I can only imagine the stresses put on military aircraft. The amount of effort that goes into design documents, requirements, testing, etc. is mind blowing. In addition to the mechanical components, there are now software components that go into the ejection process.
Martin-Baker cannot afford to have any errors. Lives are stake. You can see it when you read the quotes from the individuals that have had to pull the ejection handle, blasted out of their cockpits and have returned safely to their families. These individuals are truly grateful to the employees of Martin-Baker.
“I am sitting here with my family because of the amazing performance of my seat” – Brian Bews, CF-18 Pilot *taken from Martin-Baker website
I can say that I’m proud to be a part of the process. Though I’m not directly involved with Martin-Baker, but I am involved with Collaborator. Collaborator is the tool that many of their team members use to ensure that safety critical software and hardware have been peer reviewed. Knowing that Collaborator has been a part of saving some of the 7,514 lives of aviators is really an honor.