View Full Version : how to tow an F4 in flight

01-12-2007, 07:28 AM
First time ever I heard about such a thing:

It was March 10, 1967, in enemy skies over Hanoi. The last of 44 F-4 aircraft were just coming off a bombing raid into North Vietnam when Capt. Bob Pardo and his wingman Capt. Earl Aman were both hit by enemy fire. Aman's aircraft was the worse off. Hit by two damaging blows to the fuel tank, he suddenly was down to 2,000 pounds of fuel instead of the 7,000 pounds he needed to safely return to the refueling tanker.

Pardo knew he had to do something quickly if Aman was going to make it out. First, he tried to use Aman's drag chute to help the wounded Phantom. With the drag chute extended, Pardo tried to maneuver behind Aman's aircraft so he could use the drag chute compartment to push the aircraft toward the tanker. No good. Turbulence was too great.

Pardo decided to try to use the tailhook on Aman's aircraft. He moved in under Aman's aircraft and got the tailhook against the windscreen of his F-4 Phantom. Success. By this time, Aman's aircraft was so low on fuel that Pardo told him to shut down the engines. Pardo's push was working, but the two aircraft had to stay directly in line with one another. Pardo would push for 15 to 20 seconds, lose the necessary balance and slide off to the side. Then he'd have to reposition and push again. By now the pressure of Aman's F-4 aircraft was cracking the windscreen of Pardo's fighter. As the spider web of cracks grew, Pardo became increasingly concerned. He moved the hook down the windscreen into a small metal area below. The hook stayed put, and the push continued. To keep his own damaged Phantom flying, Pardo shut down one engine for the last 10 minutes of the flight.

After pushing Aman's aircraft almost 88 miles, the two damaged Phantoms reached friendly air space. At 6,000 feet, with practically no fuel left, the two pilots and their weapons systems officers parachuted to safety.

01-12-2007, 08:23 AM
Story is widely known under "Pardo's Push" http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/10.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif

There are also other ones: a tanker towed a Rhino across the pond after one of it's engines exploded.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">


01-12-2007, 08:33 AM
I hope Pardo got a big shiny medal for that one. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/clap.gif<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

Dum spiro, spero

01-12-2007, 09:24 AM
TV-series "JAG" has a episode "True Callings" in which the main character saves his wingman using "Pardo's Push".<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

"No enemy plane will fly over the reich territory"
Herman Göing

01-12-2007, 09:34 AM
I heard this story differantly, i thought the F4 being pushed didnt make it back to friendly territory.... even with being pushed<div class="ev_tpc_signature">


01-12-2007, 12:17 PM
A similar situation occurred in Korea. I believe the aircraft were Navy Panthers and the pushing pilot put his nosecone right up the tailpipe of the pushee. He was able to push him out over the water towards a waiting rescue chopper. Unfortunately the pilot was unable to get out of his chute after landing and drowned before the chopper crew could get to him.


01-12-2007, 03:39 PM
My ROTC instructor was a F-105 pilot in Nam. On his way outbound from a ground attack run, they got bounced by Mig's.

His plane was carrying missiles in addition to ground stores, and when the Mig call came out, he scrubbed his external stores and went after the Mig (fighter pilot fever, by his own admission). The Mig jock dragged him right smack dab into AAA, which did a pretty good job of turning the 105 into swiss cheese.

Shot up, and a good distance into North Vietnam, he grabbed all the air he could and started hollering for help, with mulitple warning lights coming up. He got back up to egress alt, and then noticed he was bleeding fuel badly. His estimate was that he had about 30 minutes of fuel left for a 2 hour return flight, and he was over hostile airspace.

To minimze his exposure, he headed out over the Gulf, and ran down the coast, hoping for the best.

He got rescued by the crew of a KC-135 tanker.

The tanker crew routed him in, and then violated orders by letting his damaged and still leaking 105 top off his tanks. Offical orders were NEVER to refuel a damaged aircraft like that, due to the danger of explosion.

According to my ROTC instuctor, he was leaking gas just as fast as they were pumping it in. They kept him on station for 15 minutes, pouring gas into his shotup 105 until they managed to clear the border and find an emergency airfield for him to divert to.

He stated that if it wasnt for the 135 crew, he more than likely would have wound up a POW. Due to violation of standing orders, nobody reported the top off from the tanker, and the missing gas was written off due to a mechanical failure in the refuelling boom.

Plenty of guys did some incredibly heroic things, just not a lot of attention was paid to them during that time.<div class="ev_tpc_signature">

"Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a moron."
--George Carlin

01-12-2007, 04:35 PM
There was a similar item in the UK if memory serves correct a RAF Phantom had engine problems and was unable to maintain height with all the external tanks on mid atlantic and would not reach landfall, if he jettisoned the tanks he would not have enough fuel to either but could maintain height, I believe he met up with the tanker and was unable to continue the flight alongside this topping up as they went for some reason, what did happen was he hooked up to the tanker to take on fuel and the Victor tanker started a long slow climb towing the Crippled fighter up to an altitude sufficent for him to make land fall in Africa or the Ascention Islands.....

01-12-2007, 04:43 PM
there was also the one in the Uk with the First Gloster jet....... he was up at altitude doing relight test when the thing refused to light, he was some 30 miles from base and realised he could just make it, setting it up in the glide he made (Farnbourgh or Boscome Down ) dead sticked it onto the airfield and rolled it off and onto the apron...... upon climbing out the engineers were puzzled as to why the Engine was stone cold http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

01-12-2007, 05:27 PM
Originally posted by WB_Outlaw:
A similar situation occurred in Korea. I believe the aircraft were Navy Panthers and the pushing pilot put his nosecone right up the tailpipe of the pushee. He was able to push him out over the water towards a waiting rescue chopper. Unfortunately the pilot was unable to get out of his chute after landing and drowned before the chopper crew could get to him.


It was an F86. They re-enacted it on one of the Discovery channel shows (dogfights or something similiar). I believe it was dogfights.

Edit: It was the season premier show of Dogfights "Mig Alley".

01-12-2007, 05:45 PM
How about refueling a flamed out F-105!

?As soon as Lewis established visual contact with the fighters, he rolled the KC-135 over in what he describes as the closest to a split S you could perform in a four-engine aircraft. Any bank of more than 45 degrees was considered an unusual position and was frowned on by SAC. As they came over the top of Wabash Flight in a most unorthodox approach, he slowed the diving tanker to 320 knots to get into position for a hookup.

Maneuvering a four-engine airplane over the top of the F-105s, then under the nose of a starving fighter--at the right heading, airspeed, and separation--called for some very delicate flying by Major Lewis. As he was about to move into final position, the number two F-105 flamed out. Its pilot was on the verge of punching out, but, encouraged by the tanker crew, he stayed with his Thud and, guided by the signals from Sergeant Baker, glided up to the tanker. Baker drove the refueling boom into the fighter's receptacle with an unerring eye. Fuel began to flow as the two aircraft headed for the jungle at a dive angle between 20 to 30 degrees.
The Thud pilot was able to restart his engine?.?