9 of the Coolest Gear Used by Navy SEALs

SEALs are known for their willingness to go anywhere and do anything. It’s the nature of special operations. But the Fulton Skyhook may be the most insane piece of equipment ever devised by the military.

Typically, the air component of the SEAL ethos is responsible for helicopter flights or parachuting. Modern SEALs receive training in high altitude, low opening (HALO) jumping and low altitude, low opening (LALO) jumping to insert into a target. But what if a SEAL or other special operator wants to unpack urgently? That’s where the Fulton Skyhook comes into the picture.

On May 3, 1966, Captain Gerald T. Lyrve was floating in the ocean. He was waiting for the first test of the Fulton Recovery System. An inflated balloon floated above him and a line ran from the balloon to a harness around his torso. While Lyrve waited, a plane appeared on the horizon. The plane flew overhead and flew past the balloon, a specially designed hook grabbing the line and pulling Lyrve into the air. The crew dragged the man into the wake behind the plane and slowly brought him to safety in the plane’s cargo hold.

The CIA, Air Force and Navy all trained on the Fulton Skyhook system. It’s a shocking but effective way to recover equipment, personnel or even an enemy prisoner. The Army abandoned use of the Skyhook for personnel retrieval after a 10th Special Forces Group soldier was killed in an accident in 1982. However, it is still useful for retrieving non-live cargo.

(Featured image by U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sergeant Samuel King Jr. via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | Public Domain)