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Life Span

It was 6 September 1983, a total dark phase (night). I was to take off in a Mig 23 aircraft SM 240. Immediately prior to take off I had a tingling sensation in my toes, telling me that something drastic was going to take place but I ignored the feeling.

I took off, lifting the under carriage and flaps. Altitude was 200 meters. In the darkness, I saw something coming toward me and with a natural instinct ducked my head. In a split second, I heard a jarring noise from the engine, resulting in an engine seizure. This was immediately accompanied by hydraulic system failure and the loss of flying control. In a jiffy, the aircraft was engulfed in a ball of fire. This left me with only one course of action -- EJECTION! My altitude was barely 300 meters and the aircraft began descending.

That’s when it happened. I was going for the ejection seat handles and saw my life span from the age of six until that moment. I ejected. Separation was safe and the parachute blossomed. I could barely perceive a water canal running parallel. I managed to cross it and land in a ploughedwatery field that cushioned my impact. I had a few bruises but walked to a nearby village.

The next morning I went to collect the chute. We realised that I had gone through three high-tension cables. It was providence. The Court Of Inquiry determined that an owl had been injected into the engine.

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