What a surprise to read in the Jan. 27 story, “Cmdr. Harley Hall Remembering ‘Shoot-Down Day,’ 40 years later,” about Commander Hall and reading his only kill was a “Buffalo Hunter,” an unmanned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft. I worked with this program, and the unmanned drones were based at Utapao, Thailand, and were launched from under the wing of a C-130 cargo aircraft.
The aircraft left Utapao and flew over the South China Sea and launched the drone. It then proceeded over the occupied territory at tree-top levels, hence the name “Buffalo Hunter.” It then proceeded to Nakon Phanom, Thailand, and zoomed up to 10,000 feet and deployed a parachute. Our base provided the helicopters, a CH-1, that would be waiting at altitude and swoop in and “catch” the chute, reel it in and bring it to our base to be refitted to the C-130 launch plane for return to Utapao, there to be prepared for relaunch the following day.
Strangely enough, while I was assigned there, we did lose one of our drones.