In the summer of 1959, Rankin was on a routine flight from South weymouth naval air station, Massachusetts to Beaufort , north Carolina.
As he pulled the lever to deploy the auxiliary power, the lever unexpectedly broke of his hands. Although the temperature outside was- 50 degrees Celsius and he was not wearing a pressure suit his only choice was to eject. At 6:00 pm, he ejected from the plane.
He suffered immediate frostbite, and decompression caused his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth to start bleeding. His abdomen swelled as if he was pregnant. Pain seared across his body, but it was numbed