Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Pardo's Push was an aviation maneuver carried out by Captain Bob Pardo in order move his wingman's badly damaged F-4 Phantom II to friendly air space during the Vietnam War.

Captain Bob Pardo (with back-seater 1st Lt. Steve Wayne) and wingman Captain Earl Aman (with back-seater Lt. Robert Houghton) were assigned to the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. In March 1967, they were trying to attack a steel mill in North Vietnam just north of Hanoi.


On March 10, 1967, the sky was clear for a bombing run. Both F-4 Phantoms were hit by anti-aircraft guns. Aman's plane took the worst damage; his fuel tank had been hit, and he quickly lost most of his fuel. He did not have enough fuel to make it to a tanker aircraft over Laos.

To avoid having Aman and Houghton bail out over hostile territory, Pardo decided to try pushing the airplane. Pardo first tried to use Aman's drag chute compartment to push the plane. However, turblence was too great and this failed.

Next, Pardo tried to use Aman's tailhook to push the plane. Pardo moved behind Aman until the tailhook was against Pardo's windshield. Pardo told Aman to shut down his engines; Aman was nearly out of fuel and the engine jets interfered with Pardo's plan. The push worked, reducing the rate of descent considerably, but the tailhook slipped off the windshield every 15 to 30 seconds, and Pardo would reposition his plane. Pardo also struggled with a fire in one of his own engines and eventually had to shut it down. For the last 10 minutes of flight, Pardo used the one remaining engine to slow the descent of both planes.

With Pardo's plane running out of fuel after pushing Aman's plane almost 88 miles, the planes reached Laos airspace at an altitude of 6000 feet. This left them about two minutes of flying time. The two pilots and their partners ejected, evaded capture, and were picked up by rescue helicopters.

Although Pardo was initially criticized for not saving his own aircraft, he and Wayne eventually received the Silver Star for the maneuver.


  1. Outstanding. I was wondering where Battlestar Galactica got that idea. The Phantom was a hell of a plane.

  2. Awesome story. I love these types of deals, because these guys had to think outside the box in order to come up with this kind of solution.

  3. That idea was so far out of the box, it had its own zip code.

    Huge stones & a razor sharp mind.


  4. And we retired the Phantom why? (I mean, I know why, but damn these planes ROCK)

    What was the last action they saw? Wild Weasels over Iraq I?

  5. Rocks that require a Freight Train for movement.


  6. We called them "flying bricks" because of the poor glide ratio. I'm sure that added something to the urgency of the situation.

  7. Been done before...

    Google F-86 push

  8. WOW-so glad that Crusader Rabbit directed us over here...

  9. Sweeeeet! My Dad was a jet mechanic with VMA-531 and took the first Phantoms to Vietnam. He loved those "flying bricks" and I daresay could have taken one down to nuts and bolts and rebuilt it till his dying day. Awesome planes that provided great service to our Armed forces at the hands of some awesome pilots in all 3 of the services that used them.

    Good stuff

  10. Long ago and far away...

    When ever we asked for a count of what we could call, when we heard F4 with "whatever they had onboard", we knew that we could get the target destroyed, especially if they were U.S. Marine F4s.

    The F4 could carry almost twenty thousand pounds or hell on earth and the Marines would hit the target 9 out of 10 times. They would crank back and almost crash coming in low and slow to deliver where the Air Force would stay higher and faster and as a result didn't get as good results.

    We heard that some Marine F4s were shot down because of their slowing down and getting low, but I will testify that didn't stop them or even deter them that I saw.

    Most of the F4s (when I was there) evidently were up north flying "Operation Rolling Thunder" I believe it was called. But we were glad when we called and they were available in our AO.

    Great aircraft, great pilots and weapons guys.

    The only thing we liked better were the Buffs, the B52s, but you had to be way far away because they were a "wide area" asset. But they were the most fearful and terrible weapons short of nukes that you can imagine.

    I've often wondered what the Taliban would do if we bombed the border region in the Afgan for about two weeks straight.

    Papa Ray

  11. They used that in Galactica? I stopped watching after the first season.

    It was used in an episode of "JAG" too (with F-14s) and they even put up a note at the end of the show that mentioned the scene was based on a real event...

  12. Kind of late to reply, but, yeah, they did it in the miniseries. Starbuck had to push Apollo back to the Galactica.