Luckadoo Annual Lecture

John Hampton Luckadoo Annual Lecture

The John Hampton Luckadoo Annual Lecture is named for “Lucky” Luckadoo who served in the 100th Bomb Group of the Army Air Forces in WWII.

The John Hampton Luckadoo Annual Lecture is funded by Elaine Luckadoo Abbott and Rick Abbott in recognition and love of “Lucky.” The annual lecture provides for guest speakers who share their stories and experience about aviation and space flight with students in the next generation as part of the Museum’s commitment to STEM education.

“Lucky” is a frequent visitor, speaker, and supporter of the Frontiers of Flight Museum. His contributions include the restoration funding of a B-17 “Flying Fortress” model on display in the Museum’s World War II Gallery. In 2013, volunteers Mike Litvin, Gary Seidel, Ken Branscome, Willia Munroe, Peggy Upham, and Joe Swift built the “Lucky” Sim, a flight simulator used in the Museum’s community outreach and STEM program.

John “Lucky” Luckadoo

Not a day goes by that John “Lucky” Luckadoo, 96, doesn’t wonder how he could have made it past his 21st birthday. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Luckadoo left college to serve in the Army Air Forces and graduated from flying school in February 1943.

He was immediately assigned to the newly formed 100th Bomb Group. The outfit flew B-17 heavy bombers that traveled in large formations during daylight raids against strategic targets such as weapons factories, oil refineries and shipyards. They could be in the air for up to eight hours.

Lt Glenn Dye Crew in front of Sunny II

Luckadoo, a second lieutenant co-pilot, and his fellow crew members would soon be involved in many epic air battles over Germany. In October 1943, Luckadoo embarked on a particularly dangerous mission to bomb shipyards in the German industrial town of Bremen. He later described the events in an article he wrote in 1993 for the 100th Bomb Group association. The flak shot at the B-17s from anti-aircraft guns on the ground was so thick, Luckadoo wrote, he could have “put down our wheels and taxied on it!”

German fighter planes attacked them from all directions. Of the 18 planes that the 100th Bomb Group sent out that day, only six returned. The rest, Luckadoo said, either exploded in the air, crashed or were shot down. Bullet holes in the fuselage of his plane let in so much freezing air that he developed frostbite in both feet as he struggled to get the craft back to England.

Luckadoo left the military after the war, settled in Denver with his wife, Bobbie, and became a real estate developer. Bobbie’s family have lived in Colorado well before it even became a state. Their daughter, Elaine, was born in Denver. They moved to Dallas in 1960, after he built Big Town Mall in Mesquite, a fixture for more than 40 years. He retired in 1987.

In 2012, Luckadoo appeared at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado to speak at a symposium on leadership. “We were thrust into a position of leadership, whether we wanted to accept it or not, because of circumstances,” he recalled telling the young cadets. “You have to reach inside to discover the qualities you need to lead. It comes down to acceptance of responsibility for the welfare for others and yourself.”

A quote by Luckadoo appears in an exhibit at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. Luckadoo is quoted as saying that of the 40 co-pilots that began in the first class assigned to the newly formed 100th Bomb Group, he was one of only four who survived their twenty-five missions.

He insists he was more lucky than good as a pilot and said there were many better pilots who were shot down. Of those who never came back, he said: “I’ll never forget them. When they’re gone and you’re still here, you think, ‘Why them and not me?’ ”

John R. “Bob” Pardo

The 2019 Honorary Luckadoo speaker is Lt. Col. John R. “Bob” Pardo, featured speaker at the Museum’s “Honoring our Nation’s Heroes” event on 24 August 2019.

A native Texan, Bob Pardo enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force in 1954. A naturally-gifted pilot, Pardo graduated near the top of his class, earning his wings on May 15, 1955. Pardo, a fighter pilot at heart, flew many famous Air Force fighter jets of the 1960s. In November 1966, Pardo deployed to Southeast Asia with the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, based at Ubon Royal Thai AFB, Thailand. Under the command of WWII Ace Robin Olds, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing became known as the “Wolf Pack” for their aggressiveness and teamwork in air combat over the skies of North Vietnam. Pardo was officially inducted into the Pack when he downed a North Vietnamese MiG-17F on May 20, 1967. 

Flying combat missions with the legendary “Wolf Pack,” Pardo had the rare opportunity to gain valuable experience flying alongside Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, who many consider one of the best Commanders in U.S. Air Force history. On his birthday, March 10, 1967, Bob received orders to escort an F-105 “Thunderchief” strike against the heavily defended Thai Nguyen Steel Mill, 30 miles north of Hanoi. As Pardo and his wingman approached the target, both F-4s were hit multiple times with anti-aircraft fire. What followed is regarded as one of the greatest feats of airmanship during the Vietnam War, known today as “Pardo’s Push.” 

We invite you to join us and hear Bob describe in his own words “Pardo’s Push.”


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