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Pushed to the Limit

risnerIn 1952, Air Force Captain James Robinson Risner and his wingman 1st Lieutenant Joe Logan chased enemy MiGs across Korea into Chinese territory. After the battle, Logan’s plane was disabled and leaking oil and fuel. Instead of bailing out to be captured, Risner used his plane to push Logan’s plane along!

With jet acedom and hours of practice time fueling his Fighter Pilot Ego, Risner vowed not to let Logan go down. Risner radioed instructions to his wingman: shut down the engine, and jetman jargon for “hang on to your butt”. Risner carefully positioned himself behind Logan, and gave the throttle a gentle nudge. He closed in on the damaged Sabre. The injured plane leaked fuel and hydraulic fluid into Risner’s engine, and smeared his canopy with a gooey patina. He kept on until the nose of his aircraft collided with Logan’s tail. The planes bucked unsteadily. “[the plane] stayed sort of locked there as long as we both maintained stable flight,” Risner explained, “but the turbulence created by Joe’s aircraft made stable flight for me very difficult. There was a point at which I was between the updraft and the downdraft. A change of a few inches ejected me either up or down.”

The unorthodox maneuver kept Logan at 190 knots, and imparted sufficient force to stay beyond the reach of AA guns below. Risner broke off after a few minutes when his own plane threatened to choke on the unwelcome juices in its intake. They glided for a time, but Risner had to push him again to get him out over the sea.

Risner’s maneuver landed him on the cover of TIME magazine in 1965. But that’s not the end of the story, because that issue caused him even more grief from enemy forces …in Vietnam. Read the entire story at Damn Interesting. Link

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September 12th, 2012

Stranger to the World


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