Lieutenant Carter Harman was the only available Army helicopter pilot in the region—the other four had been shot down or their aircraft grounded due to mechanical failure. Recognizing Harman was the only option, Army command took the bold step of sending the young pilot to rescue his fallen comrades. Helicopters, nicknamed "eggbeaters", were still a recent invention, and Harman was among the first class of seven Soldiers qualified to pilot them. His rickety Sikorsky YR-4Bs Hoverfly had been sent to the Pacific theater to carry aircraft parts and conduct similar logistical support operations.
A Sikorsky YR-4B pilot assembles supplies in preparation for a salvage mission near Myitkyina, Burma on 24 October 1947.