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1. A long cable that is attached on one end to a person or object and on the other end to a large balloon that floats high into the sky. The cable is subsequently "caught" by a slow-moving low-altitude aircraft overhead, which lifts the person or object into the air. Used especially in reference to military or spy agencies, who used such devices to extract people or things out of dangerous territories. The spy was trapped behind enemy lines, so the Agency decided to use a skyhook to get him out safely.
2. Any hook or harness attached to a cable that is suspended from a helicopter or airplane and used to transport people or objects through the air. They had to use a skyhook to lift the sedated elephant out of its enclosure in the zoo. Rescue services are going to airlift the injured man the nearest hospital, so we'll have to prep his spinal board for the skyhook.
3. In skydiving, a particular type of mechanism that is used to deploy one's reserve parachute in case of a malfunctioning main parachute. He was so focused on getting his parachute to open correctly that he didn't have enough time to open the reserve with his skyhook.
4. In rock climbing, a small metal hook attached to a strap used to help a climber secure a hold on small or slippery grips or to allow them to rest mid-climb. Thank God I had that skyhook with me! My arms got so tired near the top that I don't know how I would have made it if I didn't have the chance to give them a break. I always bring a skyhook with me in case it starts to rain during my climb.
5. In basketball, a specialized hook shot that is typically shot from a greater distance from the basket. With his great height and precise aim, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was able to turn the skyhook into one of his most effective shots once he got inside the three-point arc.
6. A figurative hook suspended from a nonexistent crane, as needed to lift or hoist someone or something in an impossible manner or location. If I eat any more of this pizza, they'll need a skyhook to get me out of this place!
n. an imaginary crane; an imaginary tool. I can’t get this thing outa here without a sky hook.