Cold War Décor: Weber Aircraft Corporation, 1953 Airplane Ejection Seat

Own an object of aviation history. Ejection seats are designed to rescue an aircraft’s pilot and other crew in an emergency. In most designs, the seat is propelled from the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it. Once clear of the aircraft, the seat deploys a parachute.

Although one of the least known manufacturers, Weber Aircraft Corporation was one of the largest American producers of ejection seats. With its manufacturing plant in Burbank, California (which opened in 1951), seats produced by Weber were used by the United States Air Force in aircraft that included the B-47, B-52, F-101, F-15, F-16, and the YF-22 prototype.

Weber also provided ejection seats for NASA’s Lunar Landing Trainer Vehicle, as well as the Gemini Spacecraft, and the Apollo 3-man Crew Couch system. A Weber NASA ejection seat was used successfully on three occasions, the first time by astronaut Neil Armstrong, who ejected safely through a two-inch roof during a training exercise for the Gemini missions. Weber’s were the only American ejection seats ever to orbit the earth in space.

The modern layout for the ejection seat was first proposed in the late 1920s. The design, which featured a chair parachuted from an aircraft or other vehicle, was successfully tested in 1929 near Paris.

Before World War II, the only way to escape an incapacitated aircraft was to jump clear of it (“bail out”). This could be extremely difficult because of many factors, including injury, the proble with exiting from a confined space, airflow around the aircraft, g forces, etc.

During World War II, the first ejection seats were developed independently by Heinkel Flugzeugwerke and the Swedish aerospace company SAAB. The first aircraft to be fitted with the system was the Heinkel He 280 prototype jet-engined fighter in 1940. After World War II, the need for ejection seats became pressing: with the sound barrier being broken, manual escape at such speeds would be impossible.

In the early 1960s, rocket-powered ejection seats designed for use at supersonic speeds were deployed in such aircraft as the Convair F-106 Delta Dart. In total, six pilots have ejected at speeds exceeding 700 knots (810 mph). Despite these occurrences, most ejections occur at low speeds and altitudes, when the pilot can see that there is no possibility of regaining control of the aircraft before impact.

Established as a division of New Jersey-based Walter Kidde Inc., Weber Aircraft Corporation was purchased in 1992 by Air Cruisers Co., part of Groupe Zodiac (Zodiac Aerospace). In 1988, Weber closed its Burbank manufacturing plant.

This authentic restored, vintage ejection seat, manufactured in 1953, is an original model that will add a genuine element of aviation décor to your living or workspace.