Back to the future: Tankers saving fighter pilots has happened before


History is making a comeback when it comes to tankers lending a helping hand to some stranded Air Force pilots out there.

Air Force Times’ readers applauded the news that an Air Force tanker crew from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, helped save a struggling F-16 pilot. He was flying over Islamic State group-held territory last year when a technical problem affected his fuel supply. He might have ejected over enemy territory, but the KC-135 essentially towed him back to base.

“Now THAT is a wingman,” reader Sam Axe wrote on the Air Force Times Facebook page. “Teamwork at its best,” Patricia Ryan chimed in.

But lo and behold, it wasn’t the first time tankers have saved fighters — according to Vietnam-era pilots, tanker air crewmembers and other enthusiasts:

“I remember a somewhat similar incident from the VN war in which a SAC tanker went into NVN to refuel a damaged fighter that was leaking fuel. If memory serves me correctly, they ‘towed’ the fighter on the boom all the way back to its base in Thailand, pumping fuel because it was leaking out almost as fast as it was being filled,” James Wyatt wrote.

Check out what other readers had to say, and be sure to view the story here:

Barry Theiss said, “I remember back in the 70’s an F-4 was going across the Atlantic and had problems and a 135 hooked up to him and helped ferry him to safety.”

Wayne Ellis: There were many stories of “saves” over Vietnam by a damaged fighter hooking up to a tanker and getting towed back to friendly lines.

Paul Reagan: Reminiscent of “Pardo’s Push” in the Vietnam war. 2 Phantom crews who pulled off an incredible save!

Greg Van Camp: Heard of this kind of thing happening to F4s from the Vietnam War

Jan Spain: Thank you for helping someone in need. I still remember the Vietnam films of our men being captured. So I always appreciate when it can be avoided


About Author

Leave A Reply