View Full Version : Any Idea`s 2

Derek Holmes
11th Mar 2008, 16:17
Hoping I`m on the correct track ! Browsing through this site I came across the photograph of Lt. Com. John Sproule who invented among other things the `Scoop Net`. The helicopter inthe photograph was a Dragonfly No FD 981 stationed at R.N.A.S. Ford. This is now in the Northeast Aircraft Museum. I happened to be the first individual to try out the scoop ,albeit on dry land. (anything for a free trip) This was on the airfield at Ford in 1950. I enjoyed the trip and was rewarded by several more. They wanted me to to the wet run in the sea in the middle of January but couldn`t provide a wet suit, so I had to decline the offer. Other than on a Senior Service cigarette advert I have never seen a photograph of the net in action. I would very much like one if somebody can put one my way. Best wishe s to you all ,Derek.

11th Mar 2008, 23:08
Not much news for you at the moment on a subject I know nothing about, but I am sure the the huge database of knowledge here will ?
Welcome to the forum from a neighbour. Keith.

John Eacott
11th Mar 2008, 23:21
These were sent to me by Sandy Sproule, taken at Lee in 1957.

I was trained with the Sproule net as a lowly Midshipman on 705, flying the Whirlwind 7. Bad enough trying to keep the thing flying, let alone dragging a net through the water :\



Derek Holmes
12th Mar 2008, 20:05
Thanks for such a speedy reply John and for the photo`s ,they are very interesting. I was wondering , how many real live recues were carried out using the `scoop` before it was phased out ? I think this site is pretty fantastic as to all thingsconcerning flight...and am wondering does one have to be a pilot to use it ? If so I`m trespassing? Thanks again for your help and thanks Keith for the welcome ! Derek.

Derek Holmes
12th Mar 2008, 20:18
Tony, Thanks for your message ,I have lost it on here so was unable to reply. Sometimes I get a bit lost and push a wrong button ! Yet I can still remember most of the talkdown proceedure on the GCA system . Thanks for help. Derek.

henry crun
12th Mar 2008, 20:59
John: Can you remember when the scoop net was introduced ?

A Sycamore from Ford pulled two of our guys out of the channel after they ditched about 5 miles south of Littlehampton in Oct 1953.
My recollection is that they were hoisted out.

12th Mar 2008, 22:03

Henry it was a Dragonfly you were right about the hoist method as the net was not used by Ford SAR until March 1954 initial trials carried out on oil drums until they were happy to use live bait such as Derek (brave chap!)

Derek I'll pm you in due course


henry crun
13th Mar 2008, 04:09
Wunper: Thanks for the correction and the link, I missed that one because I do not venture in Rotorheads very often.

The two chaps who were rescued were both fairly big and heavy.
Having lifted the pilot out of the water the poor chopper did not have enough power to hoist the nav straight up, so it had to get some forward speed first.

The nav said he was flying through the water with his arms pinned back, giving a good imitation of a destroyer at full speed. :)

Derek Holmes
13th Mar 2008, 11:54
Sorry lads I made a mistake with my dates re the scoop net. It was in 1954 when it was first tried out . Derek.

13th Mar 2008, 21:58
Here are some pictures for you Derek you might be in one of them http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d107/wunper/SproulenetSZ.jpg
Kodacolour makes them look like yesterday
Chiefy Jan Lock WWII Swordfish TAG with vast experience
http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d107/wunper/SprouleNetflySZ.jpg Flyby off Littlehampton
Trawling, Nosewheel angle gives some idea how much left boot being used!
This one might be you Derek in front of Ford Tower, pre Health & Safety at work:ok:

All the best W

Derek Holmes
17th Mar 2008, 11:28
Many thanks to all who answered my query. What an interesting site this is . Thanks to all who posted the photographs, makes one wonder where all the years have gone! Thanks again, Derek.

17th Mar 2008, 16:31
We still had the Sproule net available to the RAF SAR Whirlwinds in the 70's but they were never used operationally to recover live people as there was too much likelihood of damaging the survivor. The double lift was the standard method. The idea of the net was to avoid having to hover with the marginally powered piston engined types. The turbine jobs were somewhat better off for power.
However the net was used to recover drowned bodies to the relief of the winchman.

Cornish Jack
17th Mar 2008, 16:43
Aaaah yes, the dreaded Sproule net.:eek:
We had them on the SAR flights in the 60s but only for body(long-dead!) recovery. They were introduced originally because the Dragonfly/Sycamore etc didn't have the lifting capacity to carry two winch crew - Winch Op and Winchman. The idea was reasonable but the reality was problematical. Unless the sea surface was near flat, the front bar of the net would start to 'walk' and it became almost impossible to get the net into the water and under the 'survivor'. Rumour had it that this lead to a 'nasty' during a demo down West!! Anyway we had them available but rarely used in anger. The Whirly 10 gave the extra 'welly' for using a winchman and the results were much more predictable and faster.:ok: Our yank cousins continued to use their similar version even for astronaut recovery but, on a personal basis, the demise of the Sproule net was most welcome!!

17th Mar 2008, 19:58
Cornish Jack/ Rotorfossil, some more pictures here on the SAR thread. It was tailored round the "capabilities" of the Dragonfly.


Some local instructions for use here that probably did not make it to the outside world
2 NB comment about autorotation :eek:
3 Care and feeding of your Net

Derek Holmes
18th Mar 2008, 20:01
Tony,Glad to hearyouvesorted out your router problemsat last Re being scooped` up, I`ll bet it was a hairy experience waiting there in the cold `Oggin`! My dry run was pretty tame I did as I was told and rolled into the net when the bar touched me. For some reason I kept my eyes closed , I felt the net tighten the just lay there till I felt a tug on my shoulder, it was the crewman indicating for me to get into the aircraft.....then I looked down and had a `fit I didn`t realise how high we were ! The worst feeling I had was the first `thank you `trip they gave me.........I was not warned about the moment when the pilot did the de clutch item ! I wanted to speed back up and retreive my stomach which I thought I had left up there ! I waited for it the next time we went up. Happy days. Derek

Matt Skrossa
20th Mar 2008, 10:54
There is mention of John Sproule in a book I have at home called 'Hovering Angels' as I'm at work I don't have the ISBN etc but it's basically a history of the introduction of helicopters into the RN.

Funnily enough Lt Cdr Sproule's uniform (No 5s) was on ebay about a year ago, I had hoped the FAA Museum might have tried to buy it as he was an early pioneer of both helicopter flying and SAR techniques.

I was still using the 'Sproule Net' in the early 80's flying both Sea Kings and Wessex V, seem to remember it was quite tricky!!

Derek Holmes
21st Mar 2008, 14:49
Thanks for thatMatt, I`ll keep my eye open for the book. I didn`t realise that the net was still being used into the eighties. I have since been in touch with Allan Hughes who was like me a Guinea Pig for the net, but he did many wet ones as well. I`m so pleased that my enquiry has opened up so many memories of John Sproule and his invention. I would like to know if his opposite number at Ford in 53 ,54. is still around. I just cannot recall his name. Derek.