Surface To Air Recovery or STAR

For a Surface To Air Recovery or STAR (also known as a Sky Hook Extraction) an operator is snatched from the surface by an aircraft. From this extraction method no special skills are required. This extraction method is very dangerous.

The system used for this recovery is the Fulton extraction system. It consists of:

  • Balloon
  • Helium bottles
  • Cable
  • Harness
  • Protective suit

The operator is dressed with the protective suit. Over the suit he wears a harness which is connected by a heavy duty cable to a large balloon. The balloon is inflated and floats up into the sky trailing the cable. An aircraft outfitted with a special cable catching array fixed to the nose catches the cable. The person who is extracted is then pulled into the sky behind the aircraft where they are reeled into the rear of the aircraft.

Known mishaps are:

  • Line breaks early: The cable snaps when the aircraft catches it. The person who is extracted is lifted meters into the air before crashing back down to the ground.
  • Line breaks late: As in the line breaking early except the character is at high enough of an altitude to fall to their death.
  • Collision: The character strikes some sort of object.
  • Impact with aircraft: As the character is being reeled into the aircraft they strike the hull, hard.


This extraction method was developed during the Vietnam War by the US Army. It is normally only used for a single person such as a deep operative, a high level prisoner, or perhaps a casualty in bad need of being quickly evacuated. To extract any more than one person in this fashion would mean too much time over a potentially hostile area and too many passes of the aircraft to pick up the whole team.

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