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SF and SKYHOOK, a historical perspective
Old 07-29-2017, 10:45   #1
rick-socom
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SF and SKYHOOK, a historical perspective

I read COL Moroney (RIP) posts from 2006 about Flintlock where he discussed Mark LaRochelle and Fulton SKYHOOK and thought a few details from our current SKYHOOK historical research effort might be of interest.
The live pickups were conducted in CONUS 1958-1966, Southeast Asia (SEA) 1967-1971, and EUCOM 1979-1982. Of the 155 names identified thus far as having been picked up, 49 are SF with another 9 possible SF. As we find more names from SEA and EUCOM that SF number will climb. Two SF were GOs when picked up: BG Yarborough and BG Stilwell at Ft Bragg in 1964. MG Singlaub was picked up as a COL in Vietnam in 1967 when he was CDR of MACVSOG. The pickups at Ft Bragg (1962-66) were conducted by Army Caribou and two of the Caribou pilots were also picked up by SKYHOOK.
We’ve confirmed details on two casualties. Most are aware of the 1982 tragedy with Cliff Strickland. There was another equipment failure in 1964 when the lift-line parted on Navy aircraft and a UDT frogman was killed (NSW had a video from a chase plane of this accident). Robert Fulton had claimed that a man was killed when he accidently stepped back off the aircraft after a successful pickup...we’re still researching this.
We're planning a few articles in the future in SOF magazines to lay out a historical summary and hopefully paint a more detailed picture of this past capability, its limitations and what it accomplished.
Thanks again for all the help.
v/r rick
Richard.green1@socom.mil

Last edited by rick-socom; 07-29-2017 at 10:55.
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Old 07-29-2017, 12:05   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-socom View Post
...... Robert Fulton had claimed that a man was killed when he accidently stepped back off the aircraft after a successful pickup...we’re still researching this......
Heard that same story back in what must have been mid to late 70's - fourth or fifth person at least.
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Old 07-29-2017, 14:10   #3
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Likewise. I heard that tale from my Team Daddy back in the early 80's.

Extractee was brought over the ramp successfully, unhooked, and then let go of by recovery personnel. What they failed to realize was that the rider had been spinning in the slipstream the whole time he was being reeled in and had lost all ability to maintain balance while standing. Inner ear function shot, just like a little kid spinning around until falling over on a playground. When the load masters/recovery crew took their hands "off", he careened/stumbled off of the ramp edge.

That story relayed to our 1-10 ODA by Team Sergeant (MSG Don Williams) the night before Strickland's fatality. We were in the FLINTLOCK JSOA immediately south of Strickland's team and had originally been tasked with that extraction mission.

IIRC, Don had been part of the SOF exercise where the guy went over the ramp. Think it was a 7th Group event in Caribbean, early 1970s. Possibly 1st Group in PACOM. He had prior time in both Groups. He was not a fan of the system and filled us in on several anecdotal problems with it.

We got cancelled for that particular mission via flash radio traffic and it was instead assigned to Strickland's team. Supposedly due to better geographical access for VIP viewing of the event. We junior NCOs (drawing straws in our MSS for the honor) were pissed, until we got word of the fatality. Don hadn't been exaggerating.

Last edited by Astronomy; 07-29-2017 at 15:12.
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Old 07-29-2017, 18:05   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-socom View Post
Robert Fulton had claimed that a man was killed when he accidently stepped back off the aircraft after a successful pickup...we’re still researching this.
[/email]
I heard the same exact story in the early 80's. That should not be too hard to track down.

Let us know if we can assist.
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Old 07-29-2017, 22:34   #5
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^^^ As did I in 7th, early '80s too.
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Old 07-30-2017, 08:35   #6
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I heard the same exact story in the early 80's. That should not be too hard to track down.

Let us know if we can assist.
thanks Team Sergeant. One version of this story in the book "Praetorian Starship" about MC-130s, was that the guy fell out of a Navy aircraft (which used a bomb-bay or "Joe Hole") in April 1963 but have found no documents, obituary, navy accident report, or anything else to back that one up. Several SF I talked with about their pickups in SEA in 69-70 also recalled hearing it was off an aircraft with a ramp.

(I sent you a private message on this, thanks)

v/r rick

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Old 07-30-2017, 12:13   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-socom View Post
thanks Team Sergeant. One version of this story in the book "Praetorian Starship" about MC-130s, was that the guy fell out of a Navy aircraft (which used a bomb-bay or "Joe Hole") in April 1963 but have found no documents, obituary, navy accident report, or anything else to back that one up. Several SF I talked with about their pickups in SEA in 69-70 also recalled hearing it was off an aircraft with a ramp.
(I sent you a private message on this, thanks)

v/r rick
Again exactly what I also heard. The individual was picked up and reeled in, was unhooked and allowed to walk around with an open ramp and walked off the ramp.

We need to run this down.
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PH3 JIM Fox
Old 07-30-2017, 13:40   #8
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PH3 JIM Fox

Dunno - here is a description from inside the aircraft. The type of platform is not specifically referenced, but in 1962-3 the air frame the Navy was using was the S2F Tracker. It had a joy hole. I have a few pix of fulton recoveries being made into that type air frame.
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Old 07-30-2017, 16:59   #9
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Originally Posted by MFF3705 View Post
Dunno - here is a description from inside the aircraft. The type of platform is not specifically referenced, but in 1962-3 the air frame the Navy was using was the S2F Tracker. It had a joy hole. I have a few pix of fulton recoveries being made into that type air frame.
thanks MFF3705. that list on your thumbnail was an early draft of the UDT/SEAL list that one of my frogman brethren posted. It has a few errors but you're right, all the pickups were by S2F (or S2A) except for the first one who was picked up by P2V.

The article on the right of your thumbnail was published in the frogman magazine "the BLAST" and discusses the events regarding Jim Fox's death. The one story on Jim Fox that all the old team guys recall is that when the rope broke and he was falling away, Jim reportedly flipped the aircrew the bird.

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5th SFG Soldier picked up in Africa
Old 01-28-2018, 18:16   #10
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5th SFG Soldier picked up in Africa

We’ve identified another SF who was picked up by Skyhook. He was William “Mark” Wylie from 5th SFG who was part of a two man training pickup conducted in Monrovia, Liberia on 25 April 1982. He retired as MSG but we're not sure what his rank was in 1982. He's the 53rd SF identified thus far as participating in Fulton Skyhook. MSG Wylie passed away in 2009 and his son Tom mentioned that 5th SFG honor guard participated in his father’s funeral. v/r rick
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Old 01-28-2018, 20:52   #11
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Interesting to read about this system. I grew up in Delaware and it's been about 55 years ago now, but I remember watching a short movie on this. They used the two pole system in the film and it was produced by All American Engineering, a Delaware company. Saw it in the basement of my church of all places.



Earlier Personnel Recovery Systems

"Man Pick-Up Kit". The U.S. Army Air Forces used this contraption to snatch up downed pilots. It was developed and in use before the Fulton Recovery System. The Army Air Forces technical manual provided some details of this system.*1.* The first live tests were conducted in 1943 during World War II. Another name for this system may have been the "All American Aviation System".

*

Historical Note
All American Aviation, Inc., was incorporated in 1937 by Lytle S. Adams (1881-1970). Richard C. du Pont (1911-1943) became president in 1938, and the company began airmail pickup service in 1939. In 1948 the company became the principal feeder airline for the mid-Atlantic region, and was renamed All American Airways, Inc. In 1953 it became Allegheny Airlines, Inc. At the same time, the engineering and research units of the business were spun off and became the All American Engineering Company. This, in turn, became All American Industries in 1970 and merged into International Controls Corporation in 1982.

*

http://www.specialforceshistory.info...ry-system.html


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Old 01-30-2018, 18:19   #12
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I saw a video on the all American system as well and that was pretty wild. There’s a good article on the CIA site about their attempt to use it to recover an agent in China 1952 but the pickup was compromised and aircraft had to fly so low and slow to snag the line with a grapple hook that it was shot down. The fulton skyhook allowed the aircraft to remain at 400 feet and fly over 100 knots during a pickup but it’s still a big target. In Vietnam they developed a method for the skyhook kit to be dropped by an F-4 so the MC-130E didn’t have to fly over the same area twice. But the one instance I’m aware where they dropped the kit the bad guys were there and captured the pilot before it could be used.
thanks for mentioning it. v/r rick

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Old 02-11-2018, 22:59   #13
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When I was out processing from the 7th in 1970, I noticed a "Skyhook" certificate on an office wall in the HQ area. Think it was a SGM, but don't remember anything else. Thought it was cool.
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Old 02-15-2018, 20:01   #14
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We've identified about 44 SF who were picked up by Skyhook between 1962 and 1970 so unfortunately can't narrow it down. But those certificates are neat.
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Old 02-16-2018, 19:41   #15
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Anybody heard of a project code named Starlift?

"A C-130 flew in low, snagged the rope, which cut the balloon free, and the load master and this assistant slowly reeled me in. The procedure, code-named Starlift and used by Special Forces to exfil forces from behind enemy lines, went smoothly, but the force of the plane pulling me messed up my back."

Sounds a lot like Skyhook.

From the book
Poke here for Full Battle Rattle
My Story as the Longest-Serving Special Forces A-Team Soldier in American History

Changiz Lahidji and Ralph Pezzullo


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