From The Memory Hole comes this amazing old manual that describes how to build this bizarre but working system.
means of rescuing pilots downed in enemy territory.
This rescue device used a “trapeze” system invented in the 1930s to allow airplanes to snatch gliders off the ground, which itself was based on a system invented by a Pennsylvania dentist in the 1920s as a way to pick up parcels from the ground with an airplane. The dentist went on to start a company called All-American Aviation which won contracts to service mail stations along dangerous mountain routes using this method.
The first “volunteers” to test the device were sheep, picked up in July 1943. After a number of sheep trials were successfully completed, the first manned pickup occurred on September 5, 1943, when Lt. Alexis Doster was retrieved near Wright Field near Dayton, Ohio.