Recruiting videos and Hollywood blockbusters often feature the thrilling image of a helicopter hovering over a building as soldiers or Marines quickly dismount via ropes into an austere environment. If you've ever wondered who is behind this ingress, you are not alone.
Marine Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques (HRST) masters are the ones responsible for all aspects of these maneuvers. They shoulder a serious burden in that the Marines who fast rope or repel from their lines very literally entrust them with their lives.
Here are a few tips from a former HRST master instructor on how to live the dream showcased in those high-speed commercials.
1. Attention to detail
This may seem to be a little obvious but it cannot be emphasized enough: Do it right every time. Your Marines' lives are literally on the line.
2. Order of operations matters
There are many knots to know and, when anchors are tied inside helicopters, the order in which they are tied is just as important as how they were tied. Distribution of the load is paramount and can only be achieved if done in order.
3. Speed and accuracy
Get it done faster! When you take your knots test, instructors will give you times as short as 15 seconds to to put together perfect knots with pigtails (rope left over at the end of a knot) no longer than 2-4 inches.
4. Hatch-side manner
Not everyone you send down is cool with heights. Maintain a certain level of confidence as the HRST master and it'll bleed over onto an individual, terrified of heights, who may be living their nightmare right now.
5. Complacency kills
No matter how dynamic or exciting, eventually everything becomes routine. Believe it or not, even flying around and repelling out of helicopters can become just another Tuesday and, thus, become a breeding ground for complacency. Fight that sh*t. Do your job right and get the mission accomplished with zero casualties.