Lt Avi Yves Cabolet
“12 February 1979, I took off with my Mirage 5B BA 22, for a dusk flight, so as to be granted for night flight, at Florennes Air Base.
The aircraft was equipped with 2 pylons tank of 500 litres one under each wing, and therefore it was not necessary to take off from the very beginning of the runway (26 this day).
After a general flight of 50 minutes (40 minutes day and 10 minutes night), I came back for landing.
I don’t remember if it was visual or via a GCA. During final, I saw a nice runway with all its runway lights on. This was the last picture I remembered 200 or 300 feet above ground level. I was not informed there was an accumulation of frozen snow at the beginning of the runway and this was not visible. When I flared out for landing, my left main landing gear touched the frozen snow and broke off.
My aircraft left the runway and I think I immediately pulled out the handle to activate my Martin-Baker Mk.4 ejection seat. The only thing I remembered was a violent wind blowing in my face just before I wake up in the hospital of Loveral near Charlerloi (that was roughly 1 hour after landing). I was not very badly wounded, just one coast failed and a spinal compression of 3 lumbar vertebra (L2 L3 L4).
The tower and the fire department personnel thought the parachute they saw was the one of the aircraft that we used for braking action, as the landing speed of the mirage was 185kts. When the people of the fire department arrived nearby the Mirage, they called the tower to explain they didn’t find me. I was lucky they didn’t run over me with their fire-engine.
Thanks to Martin-Baker’s ejection seat I can tell and write down this story as Ejectee number 3008. BA 22 was restored and is now on a pedestal at a roundabout in Florennes.”
Lt Avi Yves Cabolet (Retired), Ejectee #3008
Belgian Air Force