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The external air transport method of carrying cargo and equipment by helicopter overcomes many of the obstacles that hinder other modes of transportation. Helicopters move cargo as external slingloads when--

  • The cargo compartment is too small for the load.

  • The helicopter's center-of-gravity limitation is exceeded by the characteristics of an internal load.

  • Maximum speed is required to load and unload.

  • Conditions on the LZ prevent touchdown of the aircraft.

Pathfinder qualified personnel are prepared to organize and control external load pickup or drop-off sites as an integral part of LZ operations. A detailed load plan to include approximate weights and sequences of load movement, is provided by the supported unit to ensure the correct and expeditious movement and placement of cargo.


All slingloading operations use size 4 or 5 landing points (80- to 100-meter diameter) regardless of type or size of helicopter. Conditions of the area, such as a dusty surface or obstacles, often require increasing the minimum spacing between loads, reducing the number of helicopters that can safely operate at the site at the same time, and decreasing the overall speed of the operation.


All external loads are divided into three categories: high density, low density, and aerodynamic. Each load exhibits different characteristics in flight. The high density load offers the best stability; the low density load the least. The aerodynamic load is unstable until load-streamlining occurs; then it becomes stable. Pathfinders determine the category, size, and weight of the load during the planning phase of the operation.


There are three elements involved in most slingload operations: The supported unit (the unit whose equipment will be moved), the supporting unit (the aviation unit that will fly the loads), and the pathfinder element.

Rigging the loads is the responsibility of the supported unit. However, pathfinders should check weight, rigging, and positioning of all external loads to ensure helicopter safety. Ideally, the supported unit provides hookup men for individual loads. Their specific responsibilities are:

a. Supported Unit.

    (1) Coordinating in advance with the supporting unit.

    (2) Actual rigging of the loads.

    (3) Furnishing slings, straps, clevises, and any other slingload equipment required for the move.

    (4) Ensuring that the loads are properly rigged and do not exceed the allowable cargo load of the aircraft.

b. Supporting Unit.

    (1) Providing advice and technical assistance to the supported unit as required.

    (2) Ensuring that the loads do not exceed the ACL of the transporting aircraft.

c. Pathfinder Element.

    (1) Providing advice and assistance to the supporting unit and the supported unit.

    (2) Providing expertise in the planning and execution of both PZ and HLZ operations.

    (3) Supervising the rigging and inspection of all the loads.

    (4) Providing ground guidance and air traffic control during the slingload.

    (5) Ensuring that the loads do not exceed the ACL of the aircraft.


Cargo nets and slings are an essential part of the external load operation and must be given the same attention during inspection that the cargo receives. Any evidence of frayed or cut webbing justifies replacing the component. Because of the critical strength requirements, field sewing of nylon and substitution of nonstandard parts should not be done when assembling slings. The sling assembly must meet load requirements (paragraph 5-6 and FM 55-450-3).

a. Sling Assembly. The Army's inventory has a variety of equipment that is either adapted for use or designated for use in slingload operations.

    (1) Aerial delivery slings. These slings were originally designed for airborne delivery of heavy loads, but they have been adopted for use in air assault operations. There are a variety of ADS sizes and strengths:

      (a) Type X nylon slings are issued in 3-, 8-, 9-, 11-, 12-, 16-, and 20-foot lengths for slingload operations.

      (b) Rated tensile strengths for Type X nylon ADS used as a pendant are:

      • Two-loop slings: 5,500 pounds with 4 thicknesses.

      • Three-loop slings: 8,300 pounds with 6 thicknesses.

      • Four-loop slings: 11,100 pounds with 8 thicknesses.

      (c) Rated tensile strength for Type X nylon ADS used as part of a sling set are:

      • Two-loop slings: 3,500 pounds with 4 thicknesses.

      • Three-loop slings: 5,250 pounds with 6 thicknesses.

      • Four-loop slings: 7,000 pounds with 8 thicknesses.

      (d) Two loop Type XXVI nylon is identified by a colored thread stitched lengthwise down the middle of the strap. Slings are issued in 3-, 9-, 11-, 16-, 20-, and 120-foot lengths for slingload operations.

      (e) Rated tensile strengths for Type XXVI nylon ADS used as a pendant are:

      • Two-loop slings: 8,900 pounds with 4 thicknesses.

      • Three-loop slings: 13,500 pounds with 6 thicknesses.

      • Four-loop slings: 17,000 pounds with 8 thicknesses.

      • Six-loop slings: 27,000 pounds with 12 thicknesses.

      (f) Rated tensile strength for Type XXVI nylon ADS when used as part of a sling set are:

      • Two-loop slings: 5,600 pounds with 4 thicknesses.

      • Three-loop slings: 8,500 pounds with 6 thicknesses.

      • Four-loop slings: 11,200 pounds with 8 thicknesses.

      • Six-loop slings: 17,000 pounds with 12 thicknesses.

      (g) Three-loop Type XXVI nylon slings are issued in 60-foot and 140-foot lengths.

      (h) Four-loop Type XXVI nylon slings are issued in 3-, 9-, 11-, 12-, 16-, 20-, and 28-foot lengths.

      (i) Six-loop/Multiloop Type XXVI nylon slings are issued in the following lengths: 60-foot and 120-foot lengths.

      (j) Three-foot ring tensile strength is 10,000 pounds for either the three-loop Type X nylon or two-loop Type XXVI nylon. Dual rings have a tensile strength of 17,500 pounds.

    (2) Hitches. When connecting ADS to metal air items or directly to the load, use one of the following hitches (Figure 5-1):

      (a) Choker hitch. Pull the free running end of the sling around the point of attachment and draw it between the loops of the sling's standing end After ensuring that the cotton buffer is properly in place, milk the keeper of the standing end down to secure the sling.

      (b) Basket hitch. Separate the loops of the sling at one end and place the sling over the suspension point. Ensure that the cotton buffer is emplaced properly, then milk the keeper down towards the suspension point to secure the sling.

b. Nets and Containers. There are two sizes of cargo nets (5,000-pound capacity and 10,000-pound capacity) and a variety of cargo containers in the Army system. The 5,000-pound capacity net (NSN 1670-01-058-3811, LIN N02776), the 10,000-pound capacity net (NSN 1670-01-058-3810, LIN N02781), and the A-22 cargo bag are the most common external load facilitators in the Army.

    (1) The 10,000-pound capacity cargo net, which is 18 feet by 18 feet, is used for external transport of boxed or bulky loads. The net has a maximum capacity of 10,000 pounds and will not be flown with a load that is less than the prescribed weight determined by the aviation unit. Do not drag the net across the ground. Use a canvas insert when carrying items small enough to slip through the netting.

    (2) The A-22 cargo bag is used to externally transport standard palletized loads, loose cargo, ammunition, oil drums, and other general items. Its maximum capacity is 2,200 pounds. The minimum capacity for external operations is determined by the aviation unit. The A-22 may be used with or without the canvas cover.

NOTE: For inspection of cargo net and A-22 cargo bag, refer to Chapter 7, FM 55-450-3. Rigging instructions are also in FM 55-450-3.


The date that the sling was put into service will be stamped on the sling in one-inch letters near the first keeper at both ends using an orange-yellow or strata blue parachute tube-type marker only. This date will be used to determine the date of the next inspection. Slings will be inspected every six months by the user, and the date of the inspection will be stenciled on the sling using different color ink or tube marker. First, line out the old date. If the old date is in strata blue, cover the date with strata blue and remark it in orange-yellow. Only one date should appear on the sling. Slings will also be inspected both before and after each use. If the condition of the sling is questionable the sling will be removed from service (Figure 5-2).

a. General Inspection. When inspecting nylon air items, look for any indications of the following:

    (1) Overdue inspection date.

    (2) Evidence of foreign matter: mildew, paint, grease, oil, or any other deteriorating chemical.

    (3) Cuts.

    (4) Frays.

    (5) Burns.

    (6) Broken stitches (more than two consecutive broken or loose stitches, or five or more broken stitches overall in the sewn portion will render the item unserviceable).

    (7) Cotton buffers, sliding keepers, or permanent keepers missing.

    (8) Rust.

NOTE: When using any nylon air item, ensure that once the load is rigged, cotton buffers are in place and there is no nylon-to-nylon or nylon-to-metal contact.

b. Cargo Strap. The A7A is a cotton or nylon cargo strap that is 188 inches long, and each has a rated capacity of 500 pounds. Located on one end of the strap is a friction adapter with a thick-lipped metal floating bar. The strap is issued with one metal D-ring. Inspect this piece of equipment for cuts or frays.

c. Cargo Tie-Down Equipment. Check the tie-downs for serviceability.

    (1) The CGU-lB cargo tie-down device has a rated capacity of 5,000 pounds. Its length is adjustable.

    (2) The 15-foot cargo tie-down strap with a quick-fit strap fastener has a rated capacity of 5,000 pounds.

    (3) The 5,000-pound and 10,000-pound load binders have their rated capacity stamped on their sides.

d. Metal Air Items. The following metal air items are commonly used in slingload operations. Inspect them thoroughly for rust, stripped threads on the nuts or bolts, burrs, cracks, bent or twisted metal, or oil on them.

    (1) The Type IV link assembly is used to construct the 3-foot donut or to connect one ADS to another. It has a rated capacity of 12,500 pounds, and its NSN is 1670-00-783-5988. When inspecting the Type IV link assembly, look for the following deficiencies:

    • Aluminum buffers not rotating freely.

    • Posts that are bent or cracked.

    • Bent slide connectors.

    • No metallic "click" when locked.

    (2) The following clevis assemblies are used as points of attachment from the aircraft to the load in slingload operations.

      (a) Large suspension clevis (NSN 1670-00-090-5354). It has a rated capacity of 12,500 pounds (pendant); 7,875 pounds sling to lifting provision point of attachment. It is used with CH-54 aircraft.

      (b) Medium suspension clevis (NSN 1670-00-678-8562). It has a rated capacity of 6,250 pounds (pendant); 3,750 pounds sling to lifting provision.

      (c) Small suspension clevis (NSN 1670-00-360-0304). It has a rated capacity of 6,250 pounds (pendant); 3,750 pounds sling to lifting provision.

NOTE: When using any clevis assembly, tighten the nut HAND TIGHT only! Then tape both ends of the nut/bolt assembly to prevent slippage during use. Use only case hardened nuts and bolts and never mix items. Case hardened marks (ticks/numbers/letters) will be located on the bolt heads.

e. 15,000-Pound Capacity, Multi-Leg Sling Set. The nylon and chain multi-leg sling set has an overall length of 23 feet and a rated capacity of 15,000 pounds. It weighs 94 pounds complete. It includes a 12-inch nylon web ring, consisting of seven thicknesses of nylon webbing secured with a connector link, four 15-foot nylon slings, a 10-inch grab link assembly with coupling link (each leg), and a 6-foot chain (each leg) with 64 links (Figure 5-3). Each component of the multi-leg chain set has a rated capacity of 5,560 pounds when used as a pendant. When inspecting the multi-leg chain set, inspect all metal and nylon items as per paragraph 5-6d; inspect the connector link; inspect the gate of the grab link assembly and ensure it is under spring tension. Inspect the chain for 64 links. (Reference FM 55-450-3.)

f. Large Capacity Sling Sets. The new 10,000-pound (Figure 5-4) and 25,000-pound capacity sling sets appear similar. However, all components of the sets are marked so take care not to mix components of the two sets. See Table 5-1 for identifying characteristics.

NOTE: Each set has four legs. Each of the legs has a rated capacity of l/4th the total capacity of the set. It is common to use up to six legs on some loads. The extra two legs DO NOT increase the rated capacity of the entire set. When taping the apex fitting pin, it is only necessary to tape the side with the retaining bolt and nut. Unlike the clevis, the bolt and nut are tightened with a wrench.

    (1) The nylon rope assembly for each set has an interwoven eye at each end. This eye is covered with polyurethane potting to protect the leg from abrasion and ultraviolet radiation (Figure 5-4). Each rope is double braided and is connected to a grab hook assembly (Figures 5-5, 5-6, and 5-7). The grab hooks for the two sets look alike, but they are not interchangeable because they have different ratings.

    (2) Refer to Chapter 6, FM 55-450-3 to learn how to inspect the new rope sling sets and to Appendix D, FM 55-450-3 for sling conversion tables.


The maximum weight that any aircraft can carry via an external slingload is determined by the structural strength of the cargo hook assembly. In most cases, it is not the tensile strength of the hook that will limit the weight that an aircraft can lift-it is the allowable cargo load that is the limiting factor. The ACLwill most always be less than the capacity of the cargo hook assembly (Figures 5-1 through 5-5).

a. Cargo hook tensile strengths for US Army aircraft (Figures 5-8 through 5-11) are:

UH-lH 4,000 pounds
UH-60 8,000 pounds
CH-47C 20,000 pounds
CH-47D 26,000 pounds
CH-54A 20,000 pounds
CH-54B 25,000 pounds

b. The ACL is based on the type of aircraft, age of the airframe, altitude above sea level, temperature, humidity, and the aviation unit's SOP.


When using a UH60 Black Hawk for air lift, coordinate closely with the aviation unit for the ACL.

a. Vehicles.

    (1) M998/M1038 truck, cargo, 1 1/4-ton (HMMWV)

      5,200 pounds empty

      7,700 pounds loaded

    (2) M966 TOW missile carrier (HMMWV)

      6,050 pounds empty

      8,200 pounds loaded

    (3) M416 l/4-ton trailer

      580 pounds

    (4) M101A2 3/4-ton trailer

      1,350 pounds

    (5) M105A21 1 1/2-ton trailer

      2,750 pounds

    (6) M35A22 l/2-ton truck

      12,000 pounds

      (add 500 pounds if equipped with a winch)

    (7) M149 1 l/4-ton water trailer

      Empty: 2,540 pounds

      Full: 6,060 pounds

    (8) M149A1 1 l/4-ton water trailer

      Empty 2,540 pounds

      Full: 6,060 pounds

    (9) M149A2 1 l/4-ton water trailer

      Empty: 2,800 pounds

      Full: 6,320 pounds

b. Artillery Equipment.

    (1) M101 105-mm Howitzer

      4,600 pounds

      (add 300 pounds if equipped with shields)

    (2) M102 105-mm Howitzer

      3,160 pounds

      (add 170 pounds for section equipment)

    (3) 105-mm ammunition, per round in box

      60 pounds

    (4) 105-mm ammunition, per round in carton

      47 pounds

c. POL (External Loads Only).

    Fuel 55-Gallon Drum 500-Gallon Blivet
    (1) Gasoline(MOGAS) 404 pounds 3,400 pounds
    (2) Gasoline(JP4/JP8) 410 pounds 3,500 pounds
    (3) Diesel fuel 457 pounds 3,800 pounds
    (4) Lube oil(30 weight) 479 pounds 4,000 pounds


Several types of expendable rigging supplies are necessary to complete the rigging of the following loads. These supplies include l/4-inch cotton webbing, l/2-inch diameter rope, Type III nylon cord (550 pound test), pressure sensitive tape, cellulose wadding or paperboard honeycomb, and canvas/felt padding. Sufficient supplies of these items should be on hand prior to rigging the loads.

a. For detailed preparation and rigging of the following loads, refer to FM 55-450-3.

b. Loads rigged with ADS and having more than one suspension point require that the ADS be twisted once for each 3 feet of sling length. This is to minimize vibration in the sling during flight. The nylon and chain multi-leg sling sets and the 10,000 and 25,000 pound capacity sling sets do not require the twists.

    (1) 10,000-pound capacity nylon cargo net (18 feet by 18 feet):

    • One A7A cargo strap.

    (2) Perforated steel planking (PSP):

    • Two 16-foot, 2- or 3-loop ADS.

    • One 3-foot ADS with one Type IV link assembly (for doughnut).

    (3) Drum, fabric, fuel 500-gallon capacity (blivet):

    • One or two drums Sling set, 10,000-pound capacity.

    • Refer to FM 55-450-3 for rigging instructions.

    (4) Concertina wire: the items required to move this load will depend on the size of the load. Refer to FM 55-450-3.

    (5) A-22 cargo bag:

    • One A-22 kit.

    • One A7A cargo strap.

    • One 8-foot, 2- or 3-loop ADS.

    • One 3-foot, 2- or 3-loop ADS with one TYPE IV link assembly (for doughnut).


The behavior of an external load while in flight can greatly affect the performance of the aircraft carrying it; therefore, it is important to minimize the load's drag on the aircraft. High drag coefficients will reduce the airspeed of the aircraft, will take longer to complete the task or cause it to be incomplete because allotted time has expired, and could possibly endanger the aircraft and its crew. (A helicopter pilot will not hesitate to "punch a load" if he feels that his aircraft is endangered.) To minimize drag, it is necessary to stabilize the load. The following methods can be used to accomplish this:

a. Reduce the Airspeed of the Aircraft. Having the aircraft fly slowly enough that the load does not become unstable is the least desirable method to use. This bums extra fuel and takes more time to do less work. Loads should be configured so that they will fly at speeds of 60 knots or more.

b. Add Weight to the Load. Heavier loads are less affected by the air pushing-against them while they fly, hence they tend to be more stable. However, make sure you do not exceed the rated capacity of your equipment or the ACL of the aircraft.

c. Streamline the Load. Long symmetric loads will fly crosswise to the direction of flight causing immense dragon the aircraft. Loads tend to stabilize if the center of gravity is located in the first one-third of the load. By adjusting the load and, if needed, adding weight, it is possible to move the CG toward one or the other end. The lighter tail end of the load will act much as the fins on a dart The heavier end of the load will "seek" the direction of flight and the load will stabilize.

NOTE: The longer the slings that attach the load to the aircraft, the less stable the load will be in flight. Additionally, the closer the angle of the slings to horizontal the greater the stress put upon them. For example, a total vertical stress of only 3,000 pounds will put a stress of 4,242 pounds on a sling at an angle of 45 degrees. Be aware that as the angle decreases to 5 degrees, the stress on the sling reaches 34,419 pounds.

The chart in Figure 5-12, illustrates the variations of tension on one sling leg when applied to a constant 1000-pound load at various angles.

PROBLEM: A four-leg sling assembly with each leg lifting at an angle of 45 degrees will be used to lift 10,000 pounds of weight. What will be the tension on one leg?

PROCEDURE: From the chart the total sling tension on one leg at 45 degrees for 1,000 pounds is 1,414 pounds.


Hooking up a load requires a team effort. The signalman must position the aircraft over the load so that the slingload team can discharge the static electricity and attach the load to the aircraft as quickly and safely as possible. Release of the load is done by the air crew in most cases and does not usually require any ground crew except the signalman.

a. Ground Crew Protective Measures and Equipment. Ground crews working around hovering helicopters are exposed to a variety of hazards. The danger to the crews cannot be overemphasized, and measures to ensure their safety should be of the utmost importance. To protect the crews, the following equipment (Figure 5-13) is recommended or required.

    (1) Helmet. It affords protection against head injuries from flying debris, from being caught between the aircraft and the load, and so forth. Helmets will be securely fastened.

    (2) Protective mask or dust goggles with respirator. These assist the crew by protecting the face, eyes, and respiratory system against airborne particles stirred up by the rotor wash. The mask protects better, but it can cause problems with depth perception (important for signalmen). Masks or goggles are required in high dust/debris environments.

    (3) Ear plugs or a suitable substitute. These protect against the excessive noise associated with hovering aircraft and prevent debris from entering the ear canal.

    (4) Hand protection. Marine Corps and Navy personnel are required to wear electrical workers gloves for static discharge burn protection. All other personnel (USA USAF, and USCG) should wear leather gloves to help protect their hands and fingers. If electrical workers gloves are available, all static wand persons should wear them for added protection from static discharge burns.

      (a) To ensure adequate protection, these shockproof gloves must be inspected before and after each operation. They should be checked for excessive wear, fraying, holes, and tears. Do not use a torn glove.

      (b) Even a small hole leaves a person unprotected from static electric shock. Gloves can be checked for holes by filling them with water and squeezing them while holding the open end closed, or by blowing air into them like a balloon and submerging them in water. Any holes will cause air bubbles.

    (5) Static discharge wand. The static wand is used to protect the hookup man from static electric shock by grounding the cargo hook. In flight, the stored static electric energy of any helicopter increases with helicopter weight, low humidity, and amount of debris blown by the rotor system (dust, sand, or snow). Thunderstorms can cause extremely high static electric discharges. When the helicopter lands and touches the ground, this charge is grounded out. However, when the helicopter is in flight or hovering to make a slingload drop, the charge remains stored in the aircraft. A ground crewman provides a path for this charge to follow into the ground when he connects the apex fitting to the cargo hook. This charge may cause severe electrical burn or injury.

      (a) To avoid the possibility of a static electric shock, ground crewmen use static discharge wands (field expedient and manufactured) and grounding stakes to ground the cargo hook. Since these wands connect the helicopter to the ground, the static electric charge is dissipated and the hookup man will not receive a shock when he connects the apex fitting to the cargo hook.

      (b) Inspect the static discharge wand to make sure it is in serviceable condition. Select the grounding stake location; it should be on the opposite side of the ground crew's exit direction so they will not trip over the cable as they depart.

      (c) Drive the stake into the ground until it is firmly seated--at least 6 to 8 inches infirm ground and 24 inches in sandy or loose soil. Drive the stake in at a 45-degree angle away from the side of the load in case someone falls on it. Connect the cable clamp to the vertical shaft of the stake.

      (d) When operating on concrete or asphalt surfaces, position loads as close to the edge of the surface as possible so that the grounding stake can be driven into the ground.

      (e) Do not hold the static discharge wand within 14 to 16 inches of the metal hook end--a strong static charge can jump up to 12 inches. To be effective, the static discharge wand must maintain contact with the cargo hook during the hookup operation. If contact is lost, all personnel will pull back from the hook until contact is reestablished between the wand and the aircraft's cargo hook.

    (6) Other equipment. Smoke grenades are used to mark the location of the landing site or to indicate wind direction. Flashlights with wands are used to give arm-and-hand signals at night.

b. Safety Measures. In addition to using the proper equipment, the following safety measures will be enforced at the sling-load site.

    (1) Wear long-sleeved shirts with the sleeves rolled down and fastened. Button the shirt collar. Tuck shirt tails or jacket bottoms into the trousers.

    (2) Police the operational area thoroughly before conducting sling-load operations to reduce the amount of debris that can be thrown about by the rotor wash.

    (3) Remain alert during hookup and release operations; sound judgment and common sense are the keys to success. Be ready at all times to get clear of the load; soldiers have been crushed between the aircraft and loads, have had loads dragged over them, or have taken an unwanted ride because they inadvertently became entangled with the load. Exercise particular care during hookup operations if the crew must mount the load to affect hookup. Slings under tension can easily crush an arm or leg against the load. Some of the particular hazards associated with loads are:

      (a) Cargo extensions/projections. Gun tubes, landing gear, missile launchers, bridge planks, and so forth can interfere with or injure the ground crew by striking or tripping them. Crewmen should stand clear of such projections or position themselves so that they can immediately clear the load.

      (b) Sharp projections, hooks, and protruding handles or levers, such as tarpaulin tie-down hooks, door handles, sparetire racks, and similar projections, should be avoided by the ground crew if possible. Serious injury can be caused by the sharp edges, and a crewman could easily become hooked to the load should his clothing or part of his equipment catch on one of these items. The crew should be alert and be prepared to move immediately to avoid injury.

      (c) Top heavy or narrow-based loads that can fall over from the rotor wash should be treated with caution. If possible, position these loads on their side before hookup. If this is not feasible, position the crew on the side or end of the load that is least likely to tip. The crew should be prepared to clear the load immediately.

      (d) High loads can cause serious injuries to crewmen who are required to climb to the top of the load to affect hookup. They may be swept off the load by the rotor wash, or they may find it necessary to jump to avoid a dangerous situation. Crewmen on top of a load must pay attention to where they stand. If at all possible, they should not stand on the top--rather on a lower projection or step so that should the aircraft make contact with the load they are not caught in between. The crew should work from a crouched position or from their hands and knees. If possible, have a vehicle backed up to the load that can be used as a working platform. (Move the vehicle before lifting the load.) The crew should use solid footholds and handholds and be ready to clear the load immediately.

c. Ground Crew Emergency Conduct. When an aircraft hovering over a slingload suffers an emergency severe enough for the pilot to have to set the aircraft down, he will. This may occur very rapidly as in a controlled crash. For this reason, whenever it seems as if the aircraft is having trouble, all of the ground crew should move to the designated location coordinated with the aviation unit to try to clear the slingload point Once far enough away, they should take up a prone position or seek cover until the aircraft is on the ground. Two situations require special note.

    (1) The signalman will be facing the aircraft. He should move to a point where he will be safe.

    (2) The hookup men may be under the aircraft at the time of the emergency. They should try to work along the RIGHT side of the load so that they do not have to climb over or go around the load to seek safety. They would then be able to move directly off and away from the load. If the load is a heavy piece of equipment, they may wish to keep the load between them and the aircraft while they are moving. This will offer them some protection should the aircraft crash.

d. Ground Crew Duties. The ground crew will normally have one ground crew signalman and two hookup men.

    (1) Duties of the signalman.

      (a) Before the arrival of the aircraft, the signalman directs the positioning of the load. He supervises the inspection of the load for proper routing of the slings and proper preparation. He also ensures that the load is ready to fly.

      (b) As the helicopter approaches, the signalman stations himself 20 meters in front of the load to maintain eye contact with the crew and gives the arm-and-hand signal of "assume guidance." As the helicopter reaches the vicinity of the load, he uses arm-and-hand signals to position the cargo hook of the aircraft directly over the load and close enough to the load so the hookup men will be able to place the apex fitting onto the cargo hook During this time, it is critical that the signalman positions himself so that the pilot can see his signals easily. Since the pilot of an Army aircraft is located on the aircraft's right side, the signalman will usually be located slightly to the aircraft's right. If terrain in the area forces him to place himself elsewhere, he must ensure that he is in the pilot's view at all times, regardless of where he is positioned.

      (c) During the hookup process, the signalman must also observe the cargo hook and apex fitting. Once hookup has been accomplished, he must hold the aircraft at a hover until the hookup men are clear of the load. When they are clear, the signalman signals the aircraft upward slowly so that the sling legs gradually take up the load. This is done to check that the sling legs are not fouled on the load. If they are fouled, the signalman motions the pilot downward and then instructs him to cutaway the load. If the load has been successfully suspended, the signalman will give the aircraft the signal to depart then move quickly aside to clear the helicopter's path.

    (2) Duties of the hookup men.

      (a) One man handles the static discharge wand and the cargo hook; the other controls the apex fitting of the slingload. Hookup must be done rapidly to reduce helicopter hover time and minimize the exposure time of the hookup men under the helicopter.

      (b) The hookup men will be in position at the load when the helicopter arrives. As the helicopter hovers over the load, the hookup men position themselves so that the hookup can be quickly accomplished. They make sure the signalman can continually observe the operation.

      (c) When the helicopter is in the correct position for hookup, the static wand man grounds the aircraft by contacting the static wand to the cargo hook (Figure 5-14) and maintains continuous grounding contact The other hookup man then places the apex fitting onto the cargo hook and ensures that the hook is properly closed (and locked, if required).

      (d) After the load is properly hooked to the aircraft, the hookup team moves quickly aside to the designated location coordinated with the aviation unit. If any of the legs become fouled and it is necessary to rehook the load, the crew signalman notifies the pilot.

e. Release Procedures. For this mission, the hookup men will be called the cargo release team. As the helicopter approaches the site, it takes instructions from the signalman who guides the aircraft into position for cargo release. The cargo release team stands by unless they are needed to manually release the load. The signalman directs the aircraft to set the load on the ground, then gives the release signal. At this time, the apex fitting should fall free of the cargo hook. If it does not, the signalman has the aircraft hover, then directs the cargo release team to move under the helicopter and manually release the load from the hook. When the load is free of the hook (and the release men are no longer under the aircraft), the signalman directs the aircraft to depart and quickly moves out of the aircraft's path.


If the cargo hook cannot be opened either by activating it from within the helicopter or by the action of the cargo release men, emergency cargo release procedures must be accomplished. Try to disassemble the doughnut and pass the ads through the hook. If a clevis or apex fitting is used as the attachment point to the cargo hook, unscrew the nut and remove the pin. In some cases, it maybe necessary to quickly derig the load so the aircraft can set down and resolve the situation.

f. Hookup Procedures During White-Outs or Brownouts. Due to the nature of these conditions (snow or dust), a signalman is not required and a hover hookup is not safe.

    (1) Rig the load with a 20-foot or a 40-foot extension as required using 20-foot, 2- or 3-loop ADS, and the appropriate number of Type IV link assemblies. Place an apex fitting at the end of the extension.

    (2) Lay the extension to the left of the load, and the aircraft will approach noramally then taxi to the loacation of the apex fitting and set down. Once the aircraft is on the ground, the hookup man moves to the aircraft and attaches the apex fitting to the cargo hook (Figure 5-15). The aircraft suspends the load normally and departs as sirected by the GTA.


When attaching the extension to skid-equipped helicopters (UH-1H for example), exercise care so that the sling does not pass through the skid. Route the sling forward of the skid and then attach it to the cargo hook.


Coordinate the evacuation route of the ground crew to a rendezvous point with the liaison officer or helicopter crew before the start of the operation. Proper coordination will prevent any mix-up. Helicopter emergency procedures depend on terrain, wind direction, and pilot choice. Good prior coordination will prevent the helicopter and the ground crew from moving in the same direction.

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