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One hears of many stories of ejection seats but rarely of ejection by capsule. Probably because seats are so much more common.

So are there any known incidents of ejections by capsule? F-111 was one such aircraft that had an ejection capsule I recall.

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    $\begingroup$ Sad B-1A accident while flight testing in 1984. Rockwell test pilot died in the capsule from injuries sustained on impact $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 20:50

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While the F-111 had a custom build escape capsule integrated with the cockpit, escape capsule designs have been used in the past. One notable type was the Stanley Corp. Ejection Capsule. It was a special type of ejection seat which used a pressurized clamshell-type enclosure which could be deployed rapidly once the ejection process had been initiated. It was designed specifically to protect a pilot against a supersonic, high altitude ejection which would have almost certainly been fatal using a conventional ejection seat. The system was used on both the B-58 and XB-70 aircraft.

The system was pressurized allowing a flight crew to use standard life support equipment as opposed to a full body pressure suit for high altitude flight.

One notable ejection involving the Stanley capsules was the loss of XB-70 prototype No 2 on 8 June, 1966 near Barstow, CA. During a formation flight of several other aircraft with the XB-70 for a General Electric photo shoot, an NF-104 collided with the starboard wing and tailfin of the XB-70 and disintegrated in flames, killing NASA test pilot Joe Walker in the process. The Valkyrie continued on straight and level, then waltzed out of control and began tumbling toward the desert, spilling plumes of fuel vapor as it went. Commander Al White initiated the ejection process using his Stanley capsule and egressed the aircraft but was seriously injured by failing to clear his arm from the clamshell enclosure during deployment. The copilot, Carl Cross, failed to initiate ejection and rode the crippled Valkyrie to the desert floor, killing him in the process.

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    $\begingroup$ And it was used with mixed results when the 2nd prototype of the XB-70 crashed in 1966. The XB-70 capsule was not identical, but was similar in concept, to the B-58 capsule. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ Carlo, did you watch the Valkyrie video you posted? It does not show the collision or ejection, it is just 20 minutes of formation flying... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ The new video is a little better. Though the MAC and subsequent ejections were not filmed (or never released to the public), this movie contains stills of the accident. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 21:40
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The F-111 capsule was great and I always felt glad to have it, especially at high speed. However in my 8 years flying in it, I'm not sure that the ejections I knew about were much different statistically. The fatal outcomes were late, upside down in a rapid roll or otherwise outside the parameters and the successful ones were mostly okay with a few non-grounding back injuries caused by the impact. One case in Mountain Home, the Wing CC pilot broke his back after ejecting a few seconds after takeoff. He was paralyzed but the WSO was not seriously hurt. My impression is that these results are probably comparable to seat ejections.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site! $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 11:03
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Yes, in the B-70 accident, one of the crew members escaped inside a capsule, but had part of one of his elbows shaved, as it was caught by the shell and cut on launching from airplane, and some backbone fractures on landing, as the parachute didn't work properly, speed when capsule hit ground was too high.

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From Sep 1966 to June 1971, I was the Avionics Officer on the F-111 Joint Test Force (JTF). I was assigned to the Tactical Air Command's Det 1 of the 831st Air Div...we, along with some AF System Command personnel, supported the F-111 JTF at EAFB. In the late '60s (1968 or so), our Det CO (Col Henry W. Brown) and Det Ops Off (Lt Col Joe Jordan) were flying a gun fire mission and the aircraft's bomb bay caught fire (the M-61 gun was located in the right hand side of the bomb bay) and that led to the first F-111A capsule ejection by an all USAF crew. Both crew members survived...in fact, they were sitting on a small boulder in the Mojave Desert smoking cigarettes while waiting for rescue vehicles to show up. I recall only Lt Col Jordan was injured...he had back problems due to the "pop gun" effect of the ejection. This incident was subsequently covered in the USAF Safety Magazine a few months later. P.S. During the gun fire mission I was in the Ops Office and heard the entire comm between pilots and the JTF engineers and pilots.

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