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Pardo's Push

A visualization of the maneuvering by Air Force Capt Bob Pardo to push his wingman out of hostile airspace during the Vietnam War's Operation Rolling Thunder.

During an attempted bombing run of the Thai Nguygen steel mills near Hanoi, Pardo's engine was damaged by a flak cloud and wingman Capt Earl Aman's craft was severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire. After it was apparent that Aman's F-4 would not make the trip back to Laotian airspace and a refueling tanker, Pardo began a series of attempts to "push" the other aircraft to safety.

Trying to place his nose in the drag chute compartment was unsuccessful, as was a plane-beneath-plane lift. Finally, Pardo struck on the idea of lowering the tailhook—used by the Navy for carrier landings—to provide lift and thrust at a safe distance. This method reduced Aman's rate of descent by a third and they were able to travel nearly 90 miles before both planes' crews had to eject.