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Parascuba and Helicopter Deployment--the Ultimate in Solo Diving

Discussion in 'Solo Divers' started by John C. Ratliff, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
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    I was posting in another solo diving thread about divemasters who say, "if you dive alone, you die alone," and talked about my solo diving over the years. I also said that if some divemaster challenged me about solo diving, I would ask if he (almost always a "he") had ever made a parascuba jump out of a HC-130 onto an Apollo capsule. If he had not, he had nothing to contribute to my perceptions of solo diving, as parascuba is the ultimate in solo diving (and yes, we did dive after the jump many times). We were taught to be self-sufficient, and if we could not do that, we could not make a parascuba jump. So on this thread, I will show some of the photos of parascuba jumping, such as this black and white photo I took of a parascuba currency jump we conducted in 1968. I was a member of the 33rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARRSq), U.S. Air Force, and this jump was out of a HU-16B Albatross flying boat aircraft.

    parascuba.jpg

    We did have a support boat in the water when we made these training jumps, but not on missions. What were the missions? They varied tremendously, and I'll give some references later. But I will show below one of the most famous of these missions, Gemini VIII.

    Here is a photo of the HU-16B Albatross, which was our bird in 1968 when I was stationed in Okinawa.

    HU-16B%20in%20the%20water_zpsq9wvlnbq.jpg

    gemini-8-splashdown_zpsjmzf4n6t.jpg
    Dave Scott (left) and Neil Armstrong breathe the fresh air of Earth as the hatches of Gemini VIII are opened by a trio of U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen (PJs) ...A/2C Glenn M. Moore; A/1C Eldridge M. Neal; and S/Sgt Larry D. Huyett. The HU-16B Albatross circled above them after the jumps, until pulled away and replaced by a HC-130 from Japan. The HU-16B was prohibited from making a water landing and picking up the astronauts, and instead the five awaited hours for the U.S. Navy ship to find them.
    Gemini%208%20PJs_zps7imgj2yg.jpg
    Here the three PJs (the USAF aircrew designation for pararescuemen) pose with Neil Armstrong and Dave Scott on the U.S. Navy ship that picked them up.

    All through my USAF career, except when in combat rescue in Southeast Asia, we trained for parascuba jumps, both out of aircraft and out of helicopters. We also deployed directly into the water from helicopters. I will get into the helicopter deployments later. Below you will see a photo of Rick Harder in full parascuba gear, with an explanation as to what he is wearing and the HH-1H Huey helicopter in the background, which was the 304th ARRSq's bird during the latter period of my career.

    SeaRat

    PS: Photos above, other than those of the astronauts, were by John C. Ratliff, taken while on active duty in the USAF, and therefore are not copyrighted. Please do attribute them though if they are used. The astronaut photos are from NASA, and I do not believe they are copyrighted either.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
    geoff w, shoredivr, BIGJACK and 14 others like this.
  2. flyboy08

    flyboy08 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    I'm in!!!!!! Neat stuff!
     
  3. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
    2,861
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    Here are some historical photos (not that the others aren't also "historical," of USAF pararescue:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    These photos are from the book, "Pararescue, Fifty Years, 1943-1993," by The Pararescue Association, Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas, Copyright 1996.

    SeaRat
     

    Attached Files:

    northernone, Chris Hunger and Marie13 like this.
  4. CowMan

    CowMan Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Tenkiller Oklahoma
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    Good stuff John thanks for sharing with us!
     
  5. Bubblesong

    Bubblesong ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    I googled "butt boat" but can't find out what that equipment is/does?
     
    John C. Ratliff likes this.
  6. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Neat! Thanks for sharing!
     
  7. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
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    You mean to say that Pararescue has a term that's not on Google? WOW! Well, here it is:

    "Butt Boat": a single-person life raft folded into a flat container with two attachments that attach directly to the D-ring on a pararescue integrated parachute harness on either side of the PJ, allowing the container with the life raft folded inside to rest on the scuba tanks and the butt of the USAF PJ.
    [​IMG]
    If you look at the photo of the Gemini capsule with David Scott and Neil Armstrong still inside, you will see a 7-man life raft barely in the photo, with the stenciling of "USAF RESCUE" on its side. That's so everyone will know it is USAF and not the U.S. Navy who were there first. But just behind the Gemini capsule, which by the way has a floatation collar on it that was dropped from the HU-16B Albatross, is an inflated one-person life raft; this is the "butt boat," fully inflated and now out of its container.

    In the top photo, the black and white photo I took in Okinawa, you will see a PJ about to enter the water on a training parascuba jump, and his "target" is behind him. It is another one-person life raft, that has been inflated.

    By the way, our life support folks did a great job packing these one-person life rafts into that small bag. They had to pull a vacuum in order to get them into that small package, and fold them "just so," that they would fit.

    By the way, USAF Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service and Pararescue got three space shot capsules, one Mercury (Scott Carpenter on Aurora 7), Gemini VIII, and the first unmanned Apollo, Apollo 1. That Apollo was an orbital flight, which was skipped in the atmosphere to determine the entry characteristics of the capsule. The NASA calculations were wrong, and it skipped hundreds of miles further downrange than they thought it would. Three PJs jumped on it, one at a time, and for the first two the wind blew the capsule further away than the PJs could swim. Billy R. Smith was the last PJ to jump, and he had to get it as there were no other PJs available (other planes covered other sectors of the flight path). Billy R. jumped, looked at the wind drift of the capsule, and landed exactly downwind of the capsule. He got out of his parachute, but kept the reserve, and as the capsule came by, clipped the reserve into an available D-ring, then opened the parachute. The reserve parachute then acted as a sea anchor, stopping the capsule, and allowing some hours later for the U.S. Navy to recover the capsule.

    Because of this mission, the ADDRS was developed. That's probably another acronym that Google hasn't seen.
    SeaRat
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
    Pullmyfinger likes this.
  8. Bubblesong

    Bubblesong ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    That tiny pack inflatable boat seems like a cool item so I searched other names and found a modern version that starts looking like a life vest-belt, weighs 5-6 pounds, costs $1,000 and as soon as you hit the water you pull the cord and it starts inflating and then you finish setting it up into a pup tent top to the tiny raft for further exposure protection.

    For a great Father's Day gift:

    Switlik - ISPLR Single Person Life Raft

    And for the action video:
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
    Pullmyfinger and John C. Ratliff like this.
  9. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
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    Francesea,

    Thank you for posting that ISPLR Single Person Life Raft. There are three things that kill in the water:
    1. The water itself, through drowning.
    2. Exposure to cold water.
    3. Exposure to weather/wind/waves.
    4. Time of exposure--if not rescued, no one can survive indefinitely in the water.

    This new life raft, combined with a survival suit, will greatly help survival of individuals in the sea. By getting into a survival suit, the person is better protected from the water temperature and wind. But by getting up and out of the water, and inside a second covering, the person will not drown from the wave action (which happens, even when in a survival suit but close to the water's surface).

    Then, there is the visibility provided by this life raft. I was once (1970) on a search for a grey life raft in the ocean surrounding Iceland in December. There was just no way to actually see this raft without some sort of visibility. Years later, when talking to groups about rescue, I called this the "Grey Life Raft Syndrome." If you cannot be seen, rescue is improbable. My only criticism of this product is the black outside cover we see in the last few moments of the video; that should also be yellow, and there should be some reflective surfaces too!

    SeaRat
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
    Freewillow likes this.
  10. Freewillow

    Freewillow Divemaster

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    Thanks for sharing John. Impressive life that you had :)
     

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