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The Lake Mead Parasail Exercise

Trapp Colonel Charlie Trapp recalls: Our rescue-survival section tested the suits in the area pool. (A-12 pilot Ken Collins shown in the pool at "Sam's Place" Trapp is talking to one of the assistants) Casto jumped out of our C-130 pressurized at high altitude, and during our parasail program at Lake Meade. We did a lot of things with our helicopters from construction, radar testing, and recovery of high value items dropped from the A-12. We ran a pistol range and survival training in Florida. Developed the walk-around sleeping bags. Helped make up the survival kits for the A-12, and a bunch of other stuff like flying support in the C-180, U3B, C-210, H43, UH1F and the C-130. We also stood alert for all test flights with a fire bottle and firemen along with PJs with the H43 and UH1F. Also, they somehow found me to fly LATE night emergency flights to Burbank in the U3B and C-210. When Colonel Slater decided to conduct water survival evaluation and training for the A-12 pilots at Lake Mead, myself, Castro and Bailey set up the project with the U.S. Coast Guard assigned to Lake Mead. Col. Slater had the Coast Guard set up a secure area for the Oxcart projects pilots at Groom Lake to practice water survival in their flight suits. Arrangements were made for each of the pilots to be taken aloft on a parasail pulled by a Boston Whaler.

Colonel Hugh SlaterCol. Hugh "Slip" Slater recalls that he went first and didn't get any water in the suit. Dennis Sullivan went second and he too remained dry. After that the boondoggle went to hell due to high winds preventing the little Boston Whalers from keeping up. Layton's helmet filled with water, causing him to think he was still under water. Frank Murray kind of slithered off to one side while Layton floundered around with his helmet full of water, and Mele had a hard time deflating the chute. Slater cancelled the exercise when the Whalers started having a hard time getting to the guys because the water had gotten rougher.

From Frank Murray: Sad to say I was one of the poor guys that endured the Pressure Frank MurraySuit/parasail exhibition in Lake Mead in 1966 I think.. I am not sure how many of the Project Pilots did the thing at the Lake.. It is no easy trick to get airborne on the Parasail with the full pressure suit on complete with survival kit and the parasail harness.. On one attempt I got drug on the rocky shoreline, on another I got drug through the water with a collapsed parasail, damn near drowned me. I was happy to see that effort done away with. It is like practicing getting hungry, like they do in the various survival schools I have attended over the years. I do remember that the Coast Guard furnished the boat used to get us up. I did get one successful launch and carry up to release altitude.. After that I was not going to do that again.. Nuf said, Frank

CastoKen Collins in suit, Trapp and Casto

Collins Layton vojvodich
Ken Collins Jack Layton Mele Vojvodich

Dennis Sullivan recalls: I recall the parasail operation. I had my own boat and drove out to the bay where the parasailing was to take place. As I remember it, I believe I was Sullivanthe first to go. There was little or no wind and in the pressure suit, the boat pulled me off the beach and into the air with no problem. When they released the rope I floated down and released the chute when I hit the water. The boat was there immediately and I had no problems so they loaded me up and hauled me in. Mele went shortly after. He went up OK but the old chute we were using had the stitching come loose on one riser. When they released Mele he sort of spun in, hit the water pretty hard and darn near drowned before he finally came up. I think the rest if it went OK. About that time the wind came up and the boat trip back in was pretty rough.


PLEASE HELP US IDENTIFY EVERYONE IN THE PHOTOS

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?, Earl Casto, Charlie trapp helping para sailer get airborne, 4-9 ?
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Coy Staggs, ?, ?, ?
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?, ?, ?, Joe Pinaud, Charlie Trapp, ?, ?
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Charlie Trapp, ??, pre-launch meeting
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Beatle Bailey Trapp, Col. Slater, a.k.a. Boss or Test Dummy One
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Coy Staggs, Dr. Ted Dake, Charlie Trapp, Earl Casto
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Charlie Trapp, ?
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Para sailor airborne w/one man raft & survival kit deployed
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Para sailor under tow behind Coast Guard whaler
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Touchdown
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Charlie Trapp, Dr. Dake
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Coy Staggs, Dr. Dake, Charlie Trapp, Earl Casto
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Parasail survivor
Colonel Hugh "Slip" Slater
Commander 1129th SAS
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Charlie Trapp - look, no hands!
Capt. Charlie Trapp
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F-101 refuel KC-135 tanker
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H-43 water hoist pickup

Photos contributed by Colonel Charlie Trapp