Author Topic: Ejection Seat Debate  (Read 2421 times)

Offline Jesse James

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Ejection Seat Debate
« on: May 28, 2009, 07:58 PM »
This thread at Scum prompted me to reply...  Here's the link:

The thread revolves around the "ejection seat" being advertised in the current rumor of a new TIE Interceptor coming to retail utilizing the newly tooled cockpit ball for TIE Fighter craft.

The reason I post this is there's some debate and misconception that TIE Fighters even have ejection seats...  The fact is, they do according to Lucasfilm in the expanded universe, as well as in the actual movies!  Hasbro's actually creating something that's little known to many.

First the EU evidence...  The original EU to explore "ejection" from fighters in Star Wars was the X-Wing and TIE Fighter series of games.  In the original DOS games, ejection left 3 possible results for the pilot...  There was the hope your own team would come pick you up, you could be picked up by the enemy, and you could also die if the ejection system failed and you were locked into the ship. 

The ejection system in the game actually was so advanced you could eject just for ***** and giggles, as there were controls available to manually bail out.  It would leave the fighter spiralling away on a seemingly auto-destruct system then.

When picked up by the Alliance in X-Wing you were healed and your game was restored.  When picked up by the Empire in X-Wing you were detailed and ultimately interrogated/tortured by Darth Vader.  When you died, a ship-board funeral for you was depicted with officers and pilotsin attendance as your body was dropped in a capsule out and down into a planetary atmosphere were you burned up I guess.

The ejection system in TIE Fighter was similar, however it's logical to assume "ejecting" isn't something the Empire is appreciative of unless it's an absolute necessity. ;)  IN the games actually, most Imperial fighters will run headlong at you and ram you if you don't break off...  The game explains this as their fanaticism to their cause ala the Japanese pilots of World War 2 as well as some German pilots.

This was later expanded upon further in the X-Wing: Alliance game, which was the final game of the X-Wing/TIE Fighter series for PC.  The Alliance game actually would have computer-played combatants randomly eject when/if they were being destroyed.  This would literally leave a targetable pilot floating in space, either an orange suited rebel or a black suited Imperial.  You could then "mop up" the battle area if you wanted and shoot the pilots...  You could also run into them, essentially splattering them into your shields.  They did the most minimal of damage even if you didn't have shielding up.  When shot, they simply vaporized.  Neat. :)

Second in the EU though, is the Empire series of comics...  In the storyline for Biggs in particular, he jumps ship from the Rand Ecliptic, and in a mission for the Alliance he defected to, Biggs and his other mutineers eject from their TIE Fighters leaving harnessed droids to fly them.  They then floated about in space till picked up.

Likewise other ejection systems in other craft seem to exist in the EU...  X-Wings I believe are explored somewhat in the Thrawn Trilogy, but I can't recall that for sure or not.

Anyway...

The third and final nail in the ejection seat coffin, is the film The Empire Strikes Back...  This is the pure canon, and not disputeable unlike the EU.  In the widescreen edition of Empire, one of the TIE's pursuing the Millenium Falcon into the asteroid field hits an asteroid head-on.  The Imperial Pilot inside can be seen ejecting straight up out of the cockpit, and actually on fire somewhat.  LFL themselves have backed this up in semi-recent years, however the original people to spot this cited physical reasons the pilot is ejecting.

Most notably, the TIE Fighter itself is moving forward obviously, and hits the asteroid while in pursuit... The pilot is moving straight upward from the craft's upper hull/cockpit ball though, proving he's actually "ejected" when the asteroid appeared in front of him leaving him no option to avoid it.  Pretty slick little detail.

Also it's noted in that thread about flying into atmosphere, and while the films don't explore this very much (fighters seen flying over Endor in formation, Luke's X-Wing into the atmosphere of Bespin, ships leaving Yavin, etc.), all the fighters in EU are capable of atmospheric combat/flight with only slight differences in their performance from that of space.  Perhaps pilots have a small chute in the chair to deploy, whereas in space they can simply detach from the seat (or remain seated) and just wait for pick-up if it's going to come.
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Offline Matt_Fury

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2009, 12:39 AM »
Nice observations Jesse, I always thought it was cool about ejected pilots in the X-Wing: Alliance game.  I'm not 100% sure, but I think there was a way you could pick up the pilots and save them as well.

As far as Alliance fighters having ejection capability...it's all over EU.  Many pilots eject and are picked up in the NJO series and Lagacy of the Force as well.
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2009, 02:37 AM »
I like to think there's some "Star Trek" to Star Wars with ejecting as well...  I like to imagine the pilot has access to a sealing mask for his helmet (ala the HTTE Luke's helmet from the comic packs), andalso that the seat itself can shield a pilot till pick up.

In Alliance there wasn't a way you could specifically pick up pilots, but you're probably thinking of the game's ability for "freighters" (you fly the Otana, the Falcon, and several other Corellian craft) to pick up cargo in the game...  It was a first, and I think it really had a great pair of legs to move into a game specifically about smuggling/shipping.  A game about that would've been really interesting, especially if missions included almost obstacle-like courses to get through, to "escape" with whatever you were hauling around.

About ejecting though, and I can't even believe I forgot this, there is of course Biggs imploring Porkins to "eject" when he was getting caught inthe crossfire of the flak towers on the Death Star.  What good ejecting would've done?  Who knows...  He would've ultimately been either caught or enveloped in the destruction of the Death Star, unless there was some hope of transports coming in, mid-battle, to pick him up.  Highly unlikely.

In the X-Wing and TIE series of games it was neat watching the animation for pilots being picked up.  They were masked, and floating around. T heir self-sealing suits puffed up slightly.  They would get sucked up into the hold of a Rebel Logo-marked shuttle (stolen Impy one), or an IMperial marked shuttle (I always envisioned the imperial markings on it denoted it as a non-combatant ship, not to be targeted by enemy craft...  Kind of like medics supposedly being "off-limits" targets).

I believe the latter release of X-Wing eliminated all together the "death" sequence.  This would be the CD Rom version of the game.  I don't recall in TIE Fighter whether or not there were animations about getting picked up and things, though I do recall animations where you were in Bacta being revived.

I think the TIE Fighter game also made ship-activated-ejection a very uncommon thing.  You could eject on your own, but the ship-controlled system upon critical failure of the craft was "rare".  Usually you were spacedust...  It was neat because it lent itself well to the movies, and the seemingly fragile Imperial fightercraft.
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Offline Hobbie

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #3 on: June 2, 2009, 12:57 PM »
IS there somewhere online I can see pics of the Imp Pilot ejecting in ESB?

Offline King_Maul

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #4 on: June 2, 2009, 02:04 PM »
Interesting, I was watching ESB when MTV was doing their marathon, and I specifically remember seeing a scene where the TIE Fighter crashes into an asteroid and seeing what I thought was a solid piece of debris with red/orange tail flare coming off the explosion.  I remember thinking to myself at the time, wow, that looked a little bit odd not thinking it was possibly the TIE pilot ejecting.  If anything, now thinking back, it does look like something ejected even though it was kinda on fire.  When I looked for it in my widescreen ESB DVD (from the (Original) Trilogy 4 Disc set), I didn't see it in the chase through the asteroid belt.  I know I saw it on MTV, but maybe I don't have the correct widescreen version.  I just want to see the TIE pilot ejecting in slo-mo.   8)

Offline Jesse James

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #5 on: June 2, 2009, 03:35 PM »
I've frame-by-framed it (morbid I know), and it's interesting.

I don't know anywhere online you can see it clearly in an image except an old site that used to deal with the physics and whatnot of Star Wars and ship sizes and things.  The TIE Fighter was explored heavily and they were the first place I saw the pilot ejecting issue brought up (they mention how it's going straight up from the TIE's cockpit proving it's an ejecting pilot).  I can't recall that site's name now though, offhand.  They did have images though.
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Offline Hobbie

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #6 on: June 2, 2009, 04:13 PM »
You're thinking of the Technical Commentaries: http://www.theforce.net/swtc/index.html

Great site!  I haven't visited it in ages.  I just scanned it, and they do talk about the ejection seats but don't have a film still from ESB

Offline Jesse James

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #7 on: June 2, 2009, 05:31 PM »
They used to have one, that's odd.  That was it for sure.  I could only come up with Tech Journals which were neat as well, but were an official LFL publication back in the day.

Anyway, yeah the pilot's easiest seen in widescreen and frame-by-frame.  He's there though.
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Offline Keonobi

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #8 on: June 5, 2009, 01:46 PM »
Don't know if its been mentioned, but I can't recall any of the pilots, Rebel or Imperial looking like they are strapped in.  Sure they are in their flight suits, but they seem to have a lot of range of movement in their upperbodies...

Check that, does Luke struggle with straps getting out of the Snowspeeder?  Other than that they seem to be seatbelt free, of course the ships were designed during the 1970s...
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #9 on: June 5, 2009, 04:28 PM »
I can't recall if they're seen fiddling with straps ever in the movies besides the SS either.  Luke's jolted in the XW when he crashes on Dagobah which sort of implies restraints as he snaps back, but they're not pictured.  They don't seem to be used in prequal ships either, haha.

Not very safe.
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Offline Matt_Fury

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #10 on: June 5, 2009, 07:44 PM »
Anakin unstraps from his fighter in ROTS when they assault Grievous' ship.  It's easy to assume later model fighters would also have similar restraints.
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #11 on: June 6, 2009, 02:00 AM »
Yeah I couldn't recall if we saw them unbuckle or not when they crashed into the hangar or whatnot.  Thanks Matt.  Yeah, I agree, that I'd just assume they're strapped into the seats in the OT then most likely.
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Offline Keonobi

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #12 on: June 8, 2009, 01:08 PM »
The logic that earlier ships had them, so later ships would, makes sense, but a few pictures on wookieepedia show otherwise. 

Looks like A-Wings and Snowspeeders do have restraints.
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/File:Zev-hd.jpg

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Arvel_Crynyd
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/File:GSpilot(BOE).png
(Check out the thick grey or black straps)


While X-Wings and Y-Wings don't
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Tiree_(Gold_Squadron)
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Jek_Tono_Porkins
Only the grey "vest" and thin black straps for the chest box are visible
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #13 on: June 8, 2009, 03:13 PM »
I consider it an oversight on the part of production, rather than an in-universe thing.  Explanations could be made for why they don't have them too though, but like I said when Luke crashes on Dagobah he can be seen jerking forward and back which implies he's buckled into the cockpit in some manner.
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Offline Hobbie

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Re: Ejection Seat Debate
« Reply #14 on: June 9, 2009, 07:48 PM »
Maybe on some ships they had really powerful suction cups, or a special instant on/off velcro or sticky type action going on?