Member Stories: Survival Training at Sea


As part of our regular P2V crew survival training in 1959, my crew was scheduled to experience being lifted from the ocean by helicopter hoist.  It was a very cold day with snow showers, and we were in our regular Mk-4 exposure suits (AKA “Poopy Suits”) that we routinely wore 10-12 hours whenever flying over cold water.  We also wore an inflated Mae West life vest.  We were loaded into an open utility boat at the Whidbey Island sea plane base and went out into the bay off Oak Harbor.  One-by-one we went into the water.  We put our arms into the “horse collar” sling and we were hoisted up to the helo. Then we were lowered back into the water.  I was the last to be lifted [I can’t recall whether this was the luck of the draw or a “flight crew first – aircraft commander last” routine].  By this time, it was snowing heavily.

I was lifted up about halfway to the helo, and then away we went back toward the airfield – with me swinging around under the helo.  Apparently, the pilot was concerned about the snow and reducing visibility and decided he wanted to get back to the field without delay.  So, I dangled for about three miles until he went into a hover and lowered me onto the tarmac.  I don’t recall the aftermath or if I ever saw the pilot face-to-face later.  I do recall that it was cold, snowy, and definitely not a pleasant experience.  The helo was a piston-powered HSS-1 “Seahorse”.








About Author'

Bob has 31 years naval service (1953-1984) in a wide variety of aviation, seagoing, and staff assignments during the Cold War and Vietnam. Has flown over and/or sailed upon most of the world’s oceans, and visited 26 different countries.

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