It’s very common, actually.
Unlike nations, the motives of warriors are a little less rigid and often times pilots/soldiers/airmen/marines are just doing their duty. It’s truly nothing personal.
Some good examples have already been given, but I think a picture is worth a thousand words, so I leave you with this:
These are circa-1970s photos of an American F-4 Phantom, performing a barrel roll around the fuselage of a Soviet Tu-95 bomber during a routine intercept.
According to the pilots, the barrel roll was at the request of the Soviet crew, who gestured with hand signals that they “wanted a show.”
The Soviets were thrilled.
At the end of the day, they were (and still are) just adult-sized little boys who wanted to fly high and go fast. –
Instead of killing the American pilot, the German pilot guided the worn out B-17 Bomber plane safely out of German air space.
During WWII, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown was the pilot of a B-17 and after a tough battle, his plane was the only one left behind in German air space. His plane was running dangerously out of fuel, all of his guns were taken out, half of his crew was wounded, his gunners were dead, and his plane was rattling from all the gunshots it had taken.
German fighter pilot, 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler, was only a kill away from earning The Knight’s Cross, Germany’s highest award for valor. He was on the ground when Brown’s B-17 passed over him and he took off on his plane to chase after the American plane.
When he got behind the B-17, he was about to press the trigger to take down the plane, but when no one from the B-17 was shooting at him, he flew closer to see that its gunners were dead and the crew inside were injured.
Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber’s wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide with shock and horror.
Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn’t shoot. It would be murder.
Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn’t shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.) Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany.
Brown eventually reached England and landed safely. He got married, had a job in the US State Department during Vietnam war, and eventually settled in Florida.
Then, he wanted to know who this German pilot that saved his life was. He put up an ad in an German newspaper.
On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read:
“Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to the B-17, did she make it or not?”
It was Stigler. He had had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1953. He became a prosperous businessman. Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and “it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter.”
They met up at a hotel in Florida and from being once enemies, they became close friends.
Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans’ reunions. Their wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became friends.
Both of them passed away in 2008. Brown was 87 and Stigler was 92.
So yes, it is possible! – Andrew Park
Absolutely happens all the time. Personally I have done at least; Russian, Italian, British, French, Spanish, Iranian, Turkish, Israeli, Egyptian, Libyan, Canadian, Mexican, etc, etc. For a Navy fighter pilot it is just a normal day. Note some where friends and some were not, but that was part of the job. Giving you pictures of some fighter, but some of the bigger ones also. Easier to get a photo shot with them.