Back in the Apollo program Hiller Aircraft proposed catching the entire 1st stage of the Saturn V under a giant helicopter. They called it the Rotary Wing System for Booster Recovery.
The machine was imagined by California-based Hiller Aircraft, and like many other airborne and space vehicles of that era, it never got to be made.According to Hiller, it was technically not a helicopter but rather a Rotary Wing System for Booster Recovery – but if it looks like a helicopter and goes woom woom woom like a helicopter – then it is, with the added nick name the Air Tug.
The rotor diameter would be over 120 meters. Empty weight would be over 200,000 kilograms, with a useful load of nearly 250,000 kilograms for a gross weight of a whopping 453,000 kilograms With internal and external fuel tanks the helicopter would be capable of loitering in the recovery area for up to six hours
When the rocket was fired, the helicopter would take to the skies from a nearby airbase. It would fly to the zone that the booster, the S-1C, would land, and lotier in the area for up to six hours with its large fuel tanks.
The air tug would approach the decending rocket, and meet it at around 10,000 feet (3,000 meters). At this point the rocket would be descending along a glide path with more forawrd than doward velocity, making it perfect for a intercept by the helicopter.