Randy Cunningham, and his RIO William Driscoll, are with 5 victories the first and only aces of Vietnam war. Both had been part of the first crews to pass by the school of the Top Gun.

The first shoot down, was made with the SideWinder despite having 2 MIGS blocked for the Sparrows, due to the lack of reliability of the Sparrow, Cunningham preferred to get closer and use the Sidewinder. With the second shoot, they made their first shot down. 4 months later, the 8th of May in 1972, the second shoot down was made, and 3 days later it made 3 more, adding a total of 5.

The fifth one is part the mythology of this plane because, in first place, it was thought that the pilot of the Mig 17 was the coronel Tomb, the ace of the Vietnamese Air Force, many years later it was confirmed that it wasn’t been him, and in the second place, because of the way that Cunningham shot down the Mig. In a determined moment of the combat, both planes were going up vertically side by side incapable of getting a shooting position. In this moment, Cunningham completely stopped the motor and pulled out the speed brakes, winning the tail to the Mig and shooting it down afterwards.This scene is shown on the film Top Gun, but instead of using an F-4, they use an F-14 Tomcat, emblematic plane used in the period of the film’s making.

Returning back to the USS Constellation, they were hit by a land missile. The plane couldn’t be controlled correctly because it had both hydraulic systems damaged and all the fire warnings sounding, but to avoid landing on enemy land and being turned into prisoner, it continued flying as it could almost head down, until everything failed and the plane started a flat spin, moment in which they jumped near the coast, and in the water, they were rescued quickly by a helicopter.



Vietnam March 1967.

Captain Bob Pardo (with back-seater 1st Lt Steve Wayne) and wingman Captain Earl Aman (with back-seater 1st Lt Robert Houghton) were assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand.

In a attack mision on Thai Nguyen Captain Aman´s F-4 was hit and damaged by ground fire before reaching the target, over the target they both were hit again and began to leak fuel badly. Bob Pardo might have been able to reach a tanker and ultimately save his own aircraft, but Aman was going to run out of fuel before he could get to Laos, where he and Houghton could bail out with a reasonable chance of rescue. He was still over North Vietnam when he flamed out.

Pardo decide to push Aman to safer territory. He brought the nose of his F-4 into contact with Aman´s aircraft, but turbulence off the other aircraft made it impossible to hold his position. H told Aman to drop his tailhood, then positioned the tailhood against the windscreen and pushed. Althought the hook slipped frequently and had to be repositioned, the push succeeded. Aman´s rate of descent slowed. Pardo´s left engine caught fire. He was almost out of fuel himself. Both crews bailed out near the Laotian border and were rescued, Two F-4 were lost.

From the book FIGHTER PILOT The memoirs of legendary ace Robin Olds, by Robin Olds Christina Olds And Ed Rasimus