The Military Family Network is reporting that an Air National Guard rescue unit has successfully tested the world’s first multi-person rescue basket, a device capable of rescuing up to 15 people:
“We really could have used this after hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said Lt. Col. Brad Sexton, a program manager in the Air National Guard-Air Force Reserve Command Test Center at Tucson, Ariz.
The colonel was one of the first to fly in the Heli-Basket, a 4-and-a-half foot by 8-and-a-half foot metal cage that hangs on a 125-foot cable below an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter.
After the three successful test flights, Colonel Sexton forwarded his findings to higher headquarters to start the certification process. He doesn’t know when Air Force officials will deem the device safe enough for actual rescues.
The inventor, John Tollenaere, said it was the first time a rescue device like his has been tested for human use.
Since the Pave Hawk is a highly modified version of the Army Black Hawk helicopter, the Air Force accepted the Army’s certification of the Heli-Basket for cargo use in June 2003.
Mr. Tollenaere said he invented it to stabilize helicopter loads, like plywood, which catch the wind like an airplane wing and become unstable during transport. He said it was a natural progression to try to certify the Heli-Basket to carry people.