Fighter Jets Aren’t Supposed To Do This..
YouTube / The Fly Zone
During a deep strike mission over North Vietnam in 1967, Bob Pardo and his wingman Earl Aman were hit by heavy anti-aircraft fire that damaged their F-4 Phantoms.
The North Vietnamese were known to torture American pilots who fell into their hands, so instead of watching his wingman fall to his demise, Pardo decided to “push” him into safety.
Phantoms were initially designed to be naval aircraft, so they had a heavy-duty tailhook for landings on aircraft carriers. Knowing this, Aman lowered his tailhook while Pardo positioned his windscreen until it was against the tailhook.
Aman shut down his engines, allowing Pardo to push the crippled F-4 for a few miles.
This setup didn’t have its own problems, however. The tailhook would occasionally slip off the windscreen every 15 to 30 seconds, but Pardo repositioned his plane every time to push it again.
After a few moments, one of Pardo’s engines gave out and shut down, so they only had one engine to slow the descent of both planes.
Finally, after running out of fuel (and with one engine available for both of them), Pardo was able to push Aman’s plane for almost 88 miles. They reached Laotian airspace with an altitude of 6,000 ft, where they were able to eject, evade capture, and get picked up by rescue helicopters soon after.
When all was said and done, Captain Bob Pardo and 1st Lt Steve Wayne (his WSO) were awarded the Silver Star for their actions – 20 years after the incident.