The Fulton surface-to-air recovery system (STARS or 'sky hook' system) was a reteval system used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), United States Air Force and United States Navy for retrieving people from ground locations by using aircraft such as the HC-130E Combat Talon I.
It involved the person on the ground using an overall-type harness attached to a self-inflating balloon which carried a strong attached 'lift line'.
A aircraft like a HC-130E engages the thick, durable, line and hooks it up with its V-shaped yoke and the individual is reeled on board.
Red flags were pre-attached on the lift line to help guide the pilots during daylight recoveries. Lights were used on the lift line for night-time recoveries. The recovery kits were designed for one and 2 man retrievals.
The Fulton system was planned in 1952 and used from 1958 to 1996.
A sky hook-equipped US Navy aeroplane rescues 007 and his babe at the end of the film Thunderball.
- Skyhook momentum exchange tether
Other uses of "skyhook"