Aiming for awesome: ejection seats


Funded by the Chancellor using LIBOR funds

RAF 100: Aiming for Awesome celebrates the centenary of the RAF and explores its engineering achievements over the last 100 years. There are 10 resources, each covering a different decade of RAF history. Each resource allows Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils to explore, through hands on activities, the applications of the knowledge they learn in science, design and technology, mathematics and computing.

1948 - 1958 Ejection seat

The aim of this resource is to give students the opportunity to investigate the impact of STEM on ejection seats. 

Students will learn about why ejection seats are used and how they work.  Before ejection seats, pilots would have to remove the aircraft canopy manually to climb out and jump!  Students will learn about the first use of an ejection seat in May 1949 and how technological advancements make them a lot safer now.

Student activities


Time to think: ejection seats can save lives. However, they are not used in commercial passenger aircraft. In pairs, students will discuss why ejection seats aren't used this way.  

Time to make: students will get the opportunity to design an ejection seat for an RAF pilot on a bottle rocket. The RAF pilot is attached to a bottle so that when the rocket is launched the pilot detaches from the rocket and deploys a parachute to land safely.


The activities are expected to last 60 minutes.

What you'll need

The following items per group:

  • Materials for building the ejection seat, e.g.. paper, string
  • Plastic fizzy drinks bottle, 1 litre or 1.5 litre in size.
  • A bottle rocket launcher - try 'bottle rocket launcher' product code ROC-020
  • A foot pump - try 'air pump unit' product code 202-001

Student guide

The student version of this resource can be downloaded here: Ejection seat - student guide

Supported by

  • Royal Academy of Engineering
  • RAF 100
  • 2018 YoE