What the Crew of the F-15 That Crashed in Libya Could Have Experienced

VIDEO: How Do You Eject From A Plane?
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The U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle that crashed 25 miles from Benghazi, Libya on Monday night was identical to the plane that ABC News' Martha Raddatz flew in Afghanistan on a combat mission last year. Both planes carried thousands of pounds of bombs.

Watch "World News with Diane Sawyer" for more on this story tonight on ABC.

Like the crew over Libya last night, all crews train for whatever emergency might force them to eject from their aircraft, a dramatic and dangerous event no matter what the reason.

According Steve Ganyard, a former Marine Corps pilot, several questions run through a pilot's mind.

"All of a sudden some kind of alarm goes off in the cockpit, and for that brief second you think Uh-oh, what happens if I have to eject over enemny territory?" said Ganyard. "Who's on the ground? Are they going to be helpful? Are they going to want to shoot me? Are they going to capture me? Am I going to be tortured?"

How To Eject From A Plane

Crews constantly train for that moment of ejection. Raddatz had to do the same before embarking on the flight over Afghanistan she took part in.

She was trained at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, shown how to connect the oxygen system to her helmet, and to assume the position for ejection.

"Legs forward, elbows in, head back against the seat," said her trainer. "You got it."

Watch ABC News' Martha Raddatz Fly Above Afghanistan on a F-15E Fighter Combat Mission Here.

In an actual emergency, the decision to eject would be made in a split second. A lever would be pulled and the powerful rocket beneath the seat would launch the pilot right into the air.

Target Libya: Ejecting From an F-15

"As the canopy flies off the airplane, lots of wind noise, wind blast," said Ganyard. "So very, very violent reaction to come out of the airplane, then all of a sudden it is quiet because now you are on the parachute."

The scene that the ejecting crews watch from above is astonishing.

"They probably look down and see the airplane below them crashing into the dirt," he said. "But they are looking down at the ground thinking about who is down there and who is coming after me."

The crew that crashed on Monday night was lucky. They had friendly villagers taking care of them.

When Raddatz went with Air Force parajumpers on a recent trip to Afghanistan, flying evasively through the mountains, fully armed, they showed her exactly how a downed pilot would be raised to safety. The rescue team would use a wire hoist to pull the crew slowly into a waiting helicopter while another aircraft nearby kept watch for enemy fire.

 
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