"I attempted to tell Jim what was happening and to stay with the airplane until we reached a lower speed and altitude. I didn't think the chances of surviving an ejection at Mach 3.18 and 78,800 ft. were very good. ... Still trying to communicate with Jim, I blacked out, succumbing to extremely high g-forces. Then the SR-71 . . literally . . disintegrated around us. ... Gradually regaining consciousness ... I realized I was not dead. But somehow I had separated from the airplane."
"Extracting myself from the parachute harness, I discovered the source of those flapping-strap noises heard on the way down. My seat belt and shoulder harness were still draped around me, attached and latched. The lap belt had been shredded on each side of my hips, where the straps had fed through knurled adjustment rollers. The shoulder harness had shredded in a similar manner across my back. The ejection seat had never left the airplane; I had been ripped out of it by the extreme forces, seat belt and shoulder harness still fastened."
"I heard an anxious voice over the intercom. " Bill ! Bill ! Are you there ?" " Yeah, George. What's the matter ?" " Thank God ! I thought you might have left. " The rear cockpit of the SR-71 has no forward visibility-only a small window on each side-and George couldn't see me. A big red light on the master-warning panel in the rear cockpit had illuminated just as we rotated, stating: " Pilot Ejected." Fortunately, the cause was a misadjusted micro switch, not my departure."
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