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.