Local News

Seymour Johnson Airmen Put Large Effort Into Small Survival Kit

Posted March 28, 2003 6:21 a.m. EST

— More than 1,000 airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base are near Iraq. Airmen who remain on the base are helping to keep the pilots safe during the war.

Special survival kits being made on the base are essential should a pilot have to eject.

Ejecting from a jet is one of the most violent things a pilot can experience. It doesn't happen often, but it happens.

"How many times has your car broken down or something like that?" Sgt. Bill Johnson said. "These are motors. They're mechanical items. They can break down. If that happens, they have to have a way out, and we're the way out."

Right now in Iraq, pilots from Seymour Johnson have to rely on the survival kits if they go down. The kits include automatic radios, a compass and other critical elements.

Everything is packed together tightly and attached to the ejection seat.

"Something I worked on, a pilot might need it," said Airman 1st Class Yolanda Eberhart. "His life might depend on it, so that makes me want to do my job a little bit better."

Despite all of the technological improvements, the most effective tool is still pretty low-tech. The small mirror put into each of the kits reportedly has saved more airmen than any other tool in the Air Force

"Heaven forbid the stuff is ever used," Johnson said. "We're rarely tested on what we do, but when we are, they've had a bad day to start with. I want everything coming out of that ejection sequence to be right the first time."

On most days, the pilots make it back OK. But it's hard to call any flight routine.