Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

This Forgotten 1950s Flying Trick Could Be the Secret of Future Drone Warfare

This Forgotten 1950s Flying Trick Could Be the Secret of Future Drone Warfare

This Forgotten 1950s Flying Trick Could Be the Secret of Future Drone Warfare

All... Ran across a fascinating article in Popular Mechanics...

The developer of 'this concept' in the 1950s, Nate Saint [who did a lot of missionary flying over jungles in South America], wanted to soft land and pick-up cargo from remote jungle clearings [no possibility of landing].

He developed a method for soft landing a 'cargo bucket' from a general aviation aircraft using a really long tether: hence items could be delivered and/or picked-up with remarkable ease. The aircraft would start a tight turn, letting out 'the bucket' on the tether. Once the tether was extended far enough, continued tight circling brought it to a '~dead stand-still' in the air; then the pilot simply lost enough altitude to let it 'soft land'. By continuing to circle the drop point in a precise manner [turn/altitude control], folks on the ground could off-load the cargo and on-load any item. To retrieve the bucket the pilot began to climb while maintaining the tight turn; as soon as the bucket was off the ground [going relatively 'straight-up'], and at a sufficiently high-enough altitude, the pilot slowly recovered from turning flight to 'straight and level' flight. To assist lowering and raising the cargo bucket, a winch system was used... along with a really strong line [I got the impression it was heavy duty fishing line, nylon string/rope or parachute-cord].

Apparently the USAF 'rediscovered' this ingenious concept and has begun experimenting with picking-up [retrieving] free-flight drones/drone-swarms [and probably other items of interest]. The idea is to lower a retrieving component to a relative stand-still in mid-air, so the drones just had to fly into the ~stationary component and be gently trapped. Hmmmm.... In my opinion, it remains to be seen if this method would work in a high intensity combat area... but DANG what a concept to try!!!

The "bucket drop", invented by a missionary trying to airdrop​ gifts to natives in Ecuador, would let warplanes release a swarm of drones and lasso them back.

NOTE. The first 'live passenger retrieved' was the Saint family dog [held in a harness... poor guy].

Regards, Wil Taylor

o Trust - But Verify!
o We believe to be true what we prefer to be true.
o For those who believe, no proof is required; for those who cannot believe, no proof is possible.
o Unfortunately, in science what You 'believe' is irrelevant. ["Orion"]
o Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. [Picasso]

RE: This Forgotten 1950s Flying Trick Could Be the Secret of Future Drone Warfare

nothing is new these days ...

gosh, we were smart and inventive (in the olde days)

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: This Forgotten 1950s Flying Trick Could Be the Secret of Future Drone Warfare

Laugh as you may,over the years I have found much technical information and tips in "Popular Mechanics",many practical examples and tips that seem to have flown right over 43.13 . Another elderly publication worth study is "Air Progress",check it out when you have time,it's worth the effort.

RE: This Forgotten 1950s Flying Trick Could Be the Secret of Future Drone Warfare

Well, I'll be dipped in ... er, Shinola.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: This Forgotten 1950s Flying Trick Could Be the Secret of Future Drone Warfare

seems to me you'd gain a great deal in controllability for only a small loss in payload by adding some propellers to the payload, so it can fine tune its position at the end of the tether.


Greg Locock

New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: This Forgotten 1950s Flying Trick Could Be the Secret of Future Drone Warfare

The Australians did a bunch of research on this some years ago, and discovered among other things that when using heavy cable, it was very hard to control the rate of descent of the " Bucket" or other object on the line as the line slid closer to the center of the circle, apparently they developed some formulas to compensate for the phenomena. At the time they were doing research on the retrieval of downed aircraft using this method.

You are judged not by what you know, but by what you can do.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Low-Volume Rapid Injection Molding With 3D Printed Molds
Learn methods and guidelines for using stereolithography (SLA) 3D printed molds in the injection molding process to lower costs and lead time. Discover how this hybrid manufacturing process enables on-demand mold fabrication to quickly produce small batches of thermoplastic parts. Download Now
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)
Examine how the principles of DfAM upend many of the long-standing rules around manufacturability - allowing engineers and designers to place a part’s function at the center of their design considerations. Download Now
Taking Control of Engineering Documents
This ebook covers tips for creating and managing workflows, security best practices and protection of intellectual property, Cloud vs. on-premise software solutions, CAD file management, compliance, and more. Download Now

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close