Friday, 2 March 2012

Rescue Hoist

The pink around the body of the person being hoisted up suggests that they are not Para Rescue (Rescue Specialist or SAR Tech) as the pointy we wore a harness during hoist ops.


In keeping with the Army’s, transport role for the Voyageurs the CH-113A was equipped with a robust hoist that was geared primarily to “pull” heavy equipment and vehicles into the cabin.  In addition to the slow rate of operation, the hydraulically operated hoist used a shorter thicker cable than that of the SAR Labradors.
The jumble of hydraulic lines necessitated placement of the Voyageur style hoist be offset of center. Photo courtesy Scott Hemsley

While the Voyageur was a credible secondary SAR resource, it initially lacked an efficient rescue hoist. As Voyageurs were absorbed by the Air Force into the primary SAR role their limitations where recognized as a serious impediment since the Voyageur hoist was used through the floor at center of the fuselage...referred to as the center hatch.
Master Corporal Dave Aalto explains the use of the Sky Genie rope descent device with the  use of the hoist through the center hatch of what is more than likely a Voyageur. At the time Voyageurs were being integrated into the SAR fleet Dave would have been in either Trenton or Summerside, both units of which made greater use of the Voyageur than Comox.
Photo Randy Brown collection

Designed for search and rescue, the Labrador counted on versatility to ensure reliability.  While the Labrador had only one hoist, that hoist could be used in different configurations.  With a longer hoist cable, the electrically driven hoist was geared to operate faster than its’ Army hydraulic counterpart.  The 113-hoist cable was routed through a series of three pulleys from the forward bulkhead aft to the ceiling, to the left side of the cabin opposite the open door and through a bell housing on the internally mounted (Swedish) boom hoist.  The Swedish boom, was then extended forward through the open doors on the helicopter's right side to facilitate a rescue procedure.

Lots of things to note in this picture. First note the relative center position of the hoist compared to the Voyageur. Second note the cover at the bottom of the hoist drum. Third note the upright retracted position of the candy striped Swedish boom. Fourth note the cloth covered door separating the cabin from the cockpit. Fifth one of the hoist cable pulleys can be seen just in front of the hoist. Sixth to the right of the hoist as we look at the picture is the ELT. Photo Randy Brown collection
Occasionally, as might be expected, problems with the Swedish boom necessitated use of the hoist through the center hatch.  Like the Voyageur, the cable was routed from the forward bulkhead along the center of the ceiling to a hard point and pulley system directly above the hatch. While I cannot recall a time when the hoist cable was rigged to be used from the aft upper hatch, it was possible, and infact a recognized option, as the drawing below shows you.

With the Speedline modification program, all 113s were equipped with a much faster hoist with a longer cable.  The new hoist was capable of carrying 600 pounds up or down compared with the 600 pounds up and 300 pounds down for the older Labrador hoist.  By the time, all aircraft were equipped with external hoists both Labradors and Voyageurs utilized internal hydraulic hoists as a back up to the Speedline upgrade.

One last aside, the earlier electric hoist used by the Labrador was more compact and was affixed to the cabin bulkhead above the companionway leading to the cockpit. While it was not centered exactly, it was more centered than the hydraulic hoist of the Voyageur. The reason, likely lies in the size of the hydraulic hoist and the extensive array of hydraulic lines. A lack of space to accommodate the hydraulic lines, the only option was to move the larger Voyageur hoist slightly to the left.!

A reasonable look at the Swedish boom in the extended position. Photo Randy Brown collection
Para Rescuemen Ted Bourdon and Ches Chaulk using the Swedish boom (extended) to demonstrate a  proposed  rescue sling. Photo Randy Brown collection

WO Doc Savage hooked up to the extended Swedish boom. Photo Randy Brown collection

Master Corporal Bruce Koronko demonstrates the use of the Sky Genie friction descent device with  the new externally mounted hoist. Photo was taken at 413 Squadron, Summerside, PEI in 1984. One thing worth noting is the strip just above the open upper hatch door used to divert rain away from the open door. Randy Brown collection.
A well used externally mounted hoist. Photo courtesy Jeff Wilson
Externally mounted hoist in the folded position. Photo courtesy Scott Hemsley
A view of the external hoist, in the folded position, from a more aft location.
Ground crew doing a morning hoist check. With the older Labrador and Voyageur hoists this pre-Standby check was completed by having a SAR Tech put tension on the business end of the hoist and walk the entire hoist out then back in while the Flight Engineer physically and visually checked the integrity of the hoist and cable. As one might expect, it was always the junior SAR Tech that had the task of playing dead weight during the check.

A great look at the hoist in the folded position from the front.
Bruce Koronko (413 Sqn) demonstrates the Sky Genie hooked to the external hoist. Photo Randy Brown collection
Bruce Koronko exists a 113 to execute a Sky Genie descent. Note the birds nested rope in his right hand. This photo would be before the previous photo if they were in proper sequence. Photo Randy Brown collection.

Swedish boom extended in the hangar. the red cover is protecting the bell housing. Note also the red securing device to hold the door in position. Photo courtesy Bill Ewing
This picture shows one of two things, either the Flight Engineer is lowering the hoist to the SAR Tech(s|) or he is recovering the hoist. If he is lowering the hoist, the scenario could be on land or sea. If he is recovering the hoist the scenario most likely involves lowering the SAR Techs to a ship or very tight spot on the ground. If the situation called for the SAR Techs to penetrate on land the quickest way would be by Sky Genie, but on to a ship or to a tight area would call for a hoist to be used. For the purposes of a diorama if the hoist is up, it could be either one or two persons on the hook whereas if it were down it would be one person even though the hoist could handle both at once. All hoisting down would typically have the SAR Tech use a static discharge cable that would dangle a foot or so below the feet so as to prevent the SAR Tech from getting a jolt of static built up in the airframe.
A 413 Squadron Summerside crew practicing boat hoists. This scenarion is a double hoist up to Voyageur. Note that the center hatch is being used.

Body position indicates this a hoist up. Note the blue harness worn by the SAR Tech and the lack of a static discharge cable.

A couple of things about this picture. The typical SAR Tech helmet of this vintage was orange although the visor cover differed widely, so while the SAR Tech with the white visor cover does not appear to have a SAR Tech helmet, he does. The give away is that his mic boom is on the right side. This style helmet usually had the mic boom on the left side, but SAR Techs had the boom on the right side. In another blog on another day I will explain why. The second thing is how the SAR Tech is attached to the hook. ..there is a carabiner on the hook and a yellow webbing breakaway device which is attached to the SAR Tech's harness...another interesting story for another day.
The FE hoist station.
Swedish boom is extended...note the position of the lower dutch door secured under the fuselage.
While the hoist was used predominately to hoist people, other rescue apparatus were also used extensively. Here the Billy Pugh rescue net, replaced nowadays with the USCG style rescue basket, is used during a simulated land rescue. The stocks litter was also used during hoist operations. At a later date I will discuss both pieces of equipment in more detail.
A double hoist - two SAR Techs. The SAR Tech with his arm out is the team leader signalling to the Flight Engineer above in the helicopter. The victim keeps their arns tucked in. In an operational situation, and in some training scenarios, the victim wears a pink or orange horse collar around the body while the SAR Tech will be wearing the harness.
I can't say with any certainty whether the sequence is just beginning or ending, but  either way the SAR Tech  has  his back to the inside of the aircraft. The Flight Engineer (FE) uses a handle on the back of the SAR Techs harness to assist them in or out of the aircraft.
Typical boat hoist through the center hatch.
Pre SARCUP Labrador conducting water recovery using the Billy Pugh rescue net. It was typical for SAR Squadrons to involve other aircrew for this type of training as part of dinghy drill training. I believe the one above is in Summerside harbour, although it could at any of the units.
Note that the FE is on his knees...this is fairly typical as the Swedish boom was not very tall. With the SARCUP external hoist, the FE could easily stand to conduct hoist operations since the hoist was mounted several inches higher and was outside the cabin.
Same picture as before except in colour.
Photo - Randy Brown
Photo - Randy Brown
315 Hoisting a SAR Tech (Rescue Specialist in the time of the picture). Note the orange helmet and the pink horse collar.


  1. Randy, great stuff once again. An observation on the above; I don't thing the old Labs got the CH-113A cargo winch until they went through SARCUP and got the Voyageur's hydraulic system, to power the cargo winch and new rescue hoist. Speedline only affected four Voyageurs - 307, 310, 312, 318), prior to full SARCUP conversion



  2. Had to think about that a while Steve, but you are probably right as the Labrador and Voyageur hoists were located in the same general location, it can be easy to assume that they were given the same role. As you say this is not the case given three things. 1) Voyageur hydraulics vs Lab electrics 2) Cable diameter on the Lab hoists was noticeably thinner ... not made for heavy pulling and 3) the Lab floor unlike the Voyageur floor was not made to handle heavy loads. If that is not enough, then consider that the Army role required the capability of hauling in vehicles, the Air Force role did not. Thank you very much for your valuable input.


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