Each week we have some wonderful speaker share their passion with our club, always interesting topic. Recently Jim Haley of the Oxford Rotary Club shared a history of two inventors in the same family…Robert Fulton and his great grandson of the same name, the latter which has a personal meaning to him.
The first inventor Robert Fulton developed the first commercially successful steamboat, the Clermont, which first chugged up and back down the Hudson River in 1807, a round trip of 300 miles which took 62 hours, rather speedy for those days.
His great grandson Robert Edison Fulton invented the Sky Hook, which our guest helped to test as a “volunteer” in the Navy. This invention of the late 50s and early 60s was featured in the James Bond movie “Thunderball,” and it was real. The person to be picked up put on a special jumpsuit and harness, then inflated and released a balloon on a cord, hooked to the jump suit. A C-130 cargo plane would fly at the cord, hooking it and thus pulling the person on the other end up, where they could be retrieved into the plane. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PErEsNhDmo8
Jim, a Navy pilot, was one of the test subjects and ended up landing the plane, so he was the first person to land a plane which he was not on when it took off.