| Pilot Nguyen Van Bay (R).
Nguyen Van Bay was born in 1936 in Hoa Thanh commune in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap. At the age of 16, he went to the North to join the army to fight against the French colonialists. In 1962, Bay volunteered for flight training and was among the first sent to train in China.
During the war against the US, he managed to down 7 US aircraft which were much more advanced than the MiG-17 that he flew. Vo Van Tuan, former vice chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army, said he was very impressed with Bay’s flying technique.
“He is a legendary pilot. Bay once told us that he used the guerilla tactics of the Vietnamese army,” said Mr. Tuan.
Bay’s success in shooting down American F8s, F4s, A8s and F105s with a Mig-17, a subsonic fighter aircraft made in the 50s, lent encouragement to others. Hero of the People's Armed Forces Le Xuan Tau, said: “During the war, I belonged to the armored vehicles division. Colonel Bay’s success encouraged soldiers in every battle and increased our determination to win.”
Nguyen Van Bay was admired by his comrades for his tactics as well as his calm in any situation. During his first flight in a Mig-17, Bay’s airplane took more than 80 bullet holes, but he still managed to land it safely. Military pilot Do Toan Thinh said: “We consider colonel Nguyen Van Bay a role model to follow. Mr. Bay’s flying tactics were emulated by generations of pilots like us”.
Colonel Bay passed away on September 22, at the age of 84, after a stroke.