Modern-day supersonic aircraft make it impossible for the pilot to jump out of the cockpit on his own. His survival depends on split-second maneuvers which he can not execute himself, given the high speed of the fighter aircraft. The seat, complete with the occupant, carrying a parachute has to be ejected mechanically by a rocket motor as well as the ejection gun. All that the pilot has to do is to pull a handle located between his knees. The combined force of the gun and the rocket underneath the seat propels the seated pilot to a height of some 90 meters. (See photo.) This is high enough to allow the drogue (small) parachute and thereafter the main parachute to open fully. It hardly takes more than a second for them to be deployed. The drogue meanwhile detaches itself from the main parachute. Simultaneously, the time-release unit releases the pilot’s safety harness from the seat, which falls away without causing the pilot any obstruction.
The ejected pilot has a pack of several aids to assist his survival. If he comes down in a lake or the sea, a rubber life raft inflates and he also has the normal life jacket to keep him afloat. Another important aid is a radio beacon that sends out a distress signal enabling search aircraft and ships to locate the pilot. In addition, there is a small food packet and a water bottle. For the aircraft carrier’s pilot, fishing equipment is also provided.
Ejection seat (Wikipedia)