No, it's not an improvised surface to air missile. It's an early-generation pneumatic antenna launcher.
A deep genuflection and tip of the boonie hat to Irregular Chuck for bringing the subject of pneumatic antenna launchers to my attention.
What is Pneumatic Antenna Launching?
Pneumatically Powered (Tennis Ball) Antenna Launching. Pneumatic Line launching is perhaps a more apt description. First we need a line in the trees, then we can pull up an antenna, which in most cases is a long piece of wire. In the launcher pictured above a Tennis Ball is propelled by compressed air, towing a fishing line over the tree. Then we pull up nylon mason twine with the fishline, and finally a wire or heavier line as needed.
Why does anyone need to Launch an Antenna?
It is often more convenient to use existing trees than to erect supports for wire or beam antennas, especially when these antennas are required for temporary or emergency field use. We set up antennas for disasters and drills, camping and contests, practice and fun. With all the applications for Homeland Security there are many potential uses for rapid deployment. If you have a need to quickly set up antennas in various field situations, or you have some really nice trees in your backyard, you may have a use for Antenna Launching.
What is a Pneumatic Antenna Launcher?
It is a very simple system that uses the energy in a pressurized volume of gas (generally air), a valve to release the gas, and a projectile (tennis ball) in a tube that is accelerated by the expanding gas giving it the requisite velocity to pull a light line over the tree.
The PADS Pneumatic Antenna Deployment System with Accessories
What is a Pneumatic Antenna Deployment System?
This is the name for the Launcher-in-a-Toolcase shown above. The CSV17 launcher fits nicely into this hard case. It may be small but has been able to reach over 150 feet in height. The PADS launcher and hard case are available on the order page. Also shown are a pair of Twine Reels containing 500 feet of nylon twine. They are available in 270 foot lengths as well. The grey cylinder near the bottom center of the photo is a bicycle type CO2 tire inflator. It can be used with a number of different capacity CO2 cylinders. Using the low-cost 12 gram cylinders produces enough pressure for one good launch per cylinder. Also in this case, but not visible is a 12 oz Paintball CO2 cylinder stored inside the barrel, along with two tennis balls. The CO2 pressure regulator is behind the right end of the ramrod. There are a total of six tennis balls in this photo, two hidden in the barrel and one hidden inside the reel on the lower left. The Mini-Coaxial reel on the lower left is a special reel made for this launcher to fit in the case. It is a scaled-down Zip-type reel with about a one foot circumference. Just behind the launcher's trigger is a bag of 12 gram CO2 cylinders for the bicycle inflator. See the PADS Web Page.