Jet Provost: Sri Lanka Air Force’s first jet aircraft pilot ejection


Pilot officer Noel H. Lokuge ejected safely from his aircraft 48 years ago today (February 1) to become the first SLAF (then Royal Ceylon Air Force) pilot to eject from a jet aircraft (a Jet Provost T51). He landed in the Negombo lagoon, was rescued (not I didn’t say “fished out”) by some fisherman and returned to flying the next day. From the details of his saga he clearly wasn’t intending to make history – just practising for the 1960 independence day fly past.

A related first is that the Jet Provost he was flying was one of the first jet aircraft purchased by the Sri Lankan government. A body of one these is on public display in Colombo’s Viharamahadevi Park. Found 2 photographs of it on Air-Britain and Airliners.net (which has more details).

Pilot officer Lokuge’s bail out was not the last from this list of such incidents involving the SLAF. In practically all of these, Martin-Baker ejection seats are the life saving feature. The Martin-Baker web-site has a page on the Mk 4 ejection seat which is of the type that saved pilot officer Lokuge’s life.

According to the article Pilot officer Noel H. Lokuge retired from the air force a Squadron leader in 1976 . I haven’t asked my ex-air force relatives if they knew him. He seems to have gone on to a distinguished career in civilian aviation.

I doubt if he sees this little anniversary as a big deal.

17 comments

  1. Noel Lokuge is living in Oz.he was flying for Air Ceylon for some time and migrated. he is a distinguished member of the Martin Baker club, which the membership consists of all who ejected (and survived obviously!) with a MB ejection seat.

    not only the Jet Provost was the first jet of the SLAF , it was the first aircraft to drop bombs in anger. SLAF carried out 4 bombing sorties against the JVP insurgents in 1971 on a location close to Kegalle and Medawachchiya using the Jet Provost and was the last of its type to do a operational sortie.apart from the example that’s at Viharamaha devi park, there was a one in immaculately good condition with the SLAF APSU in Ratmalana, but during the mid 1990s it was left out for the rats to work on and the rats did a good job in chewing out its engine parts ,avionics ,wiring and interior.

    second ejection in SLAF was again off Negambo lagoon, this time with a Flt.Lt (not sure the name-still serving ) who had to do a ejection when his Kfir C2 had a engine blowout during early 1990s.again , like Noel he was fished out by the fisherman for the area but i’m not sure of if it was the son of the guy who pulled out Noel Lokuge!!!

    third ejection was me!

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  2. Tinker
    Thank you for filling in all the gaps🙂

    The third ejection is described as:

    pilot ejected safely, made a two hour walk and telephoned air base, rescued by helicopter

    That was you?😯 right……😉

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  3. Captain Lokuge… Is this by any chance a pilot who worked in the Maldives for a long time? If not, does anyone have an idea as to who that might be? He was the best ever for aerial photography. I flew with that Capt. Lokuge in the early 1980′ from Male airport in a Cessna. The man was just brillaint, he did all the work for me; all I had to do was stick a camera out the side and ‘click’ as he set up each picture. Great guy, I wonder where he is.

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  4. Silly me, should have read the article first! Thank you. Any idea where he might be? Did someone mention Australia? It would be great to meet up with him again. Really enjoy all your postings – many thanks.

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  5. Dominic Thank you🙂 my pleasure😀 If you got any old photo of old aircraft lying around Sri Lanka online feel free to post any links here.

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  6. Dear TINKER,
    Interesting information about your ejection. Please can you contact me via my web site. The link to the information on Noel Lokuge is actually my web site and Noel kndly corresponded with me to ensure his ejection biography was correct. I also have a page devoted to Sri Lankan aviation
    Kindest regards and respect
    Mike Bennett

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  7. Mike Bennett:

    Please pass on my regards to Noel Lokuge if you keep in touch with him. I think there’s another generation of Sri Lankans who are interested in his story.

    I will email Tinker your email address and message. I have remove your email address from the post to prevent it from being captured by spammers.

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  8. I had the pleasure of knowing Noel Lokuge and his family when they were in the Maldives. Excellent pilot and a wonderful man. I am sure he can tell you of his many escapades in the Maldives including landing a Piper Seneca without the nose landing gear( the gear refused to come down)

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  9. Cerno, it is not what he has told me but what I have seen when he was in the Maldives. The operation was basic to say the least and I cannot express my admiration for both Noel Lokuge and his colleague Group Captain Bhalla(ex IAF) in flying the small Piper Senecas in extremly difficult circumstances and most of the time without any navaids.

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