Nguyen Van Bay: Mig-17 Ace over Vietnam

From an interview with an F-4 Phantom Pilot

Nguyen Van Bay was North Vietnam’s premier fighter ace with 7 kills in his Mig-17. When interviewed by an F-4 Phantom pilot who lost a friend to Bay, he told his story of going from riding a bicycle to piloting a Mig-17 in a matter of months. Having fought the French in 1954, he enlisted in the air force and was sent to China to train on the Mig-17, often using a cut in half soccer ball tied around his neck to catch vomit. Surviving being shot down by an F-4 and after his 7th kill, the North Vietnamese government would not allow him to fly again, preferring to use him as a speaker to gain support. After the war Van Bay returned to his hometown and took up gardening and farming til his death in 2019 at age 82. The interview was done by renowned Aviation archaeologist Ralph Wetterhahn, an F-4, A-7, and F-15 pilot.

Check out his books on other interesting aviation stories. Valor is in you. Set it free.

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