William A. Gorton


Preferred Name: Bill

Nickname/Call Sign: Jaws

Date Of Birth: October 31, 1933

Highest Military Grade Held: Major General

Hometown: Providence, RI/Cocoa, FL

Biography

In his words… “It never dawned on me that I wouldn’t be a fighter pilot,” says retired Air Force Major General William Gorton. His father, A.W. Gorton, was U.S. Navy aviator # 1,720, a test pilot, a member of the U.S. Navy racing team, and winner of the Curtiss Marine Flying Trophy. “What surprised me,” Gorton continues, “was that I ended up in the Air Force instead of the Navy. But that was on the advice of my father. In 1954 the Air Force was expanding and my father thought I would have a greater chance of flying fighters in the Air Force. So in February 1954, I went up to Jacksonville, Florida, and enlisted in the aviation cadet program. From the first actual fighter I flew, the F-86, until the last fighter I flew the day before I retired—the F-16—I was fortunate to do exactly what I set out to do.”

For six years, Gorton’s ride was the F-100. “In 1956, I was full of attitude and not much brains, and the F-100 was by far the hottest airplane in the inventory at that time. And it had some fascinating idiosyncrasies about it. It taught me an awful lot.”(1) In 31 years in the AF, I was fortunate to be operationally qualified to fly the best fighters in the Air Force.

It was, however, the six years in the Hun that taught me the most and demanded the most of my limited skills. A great jet with no two landings exactly the same!

I flew the F-100A-20 from 18 Jan 1956 to 4 Apr 1956.  I flew it for 74 sorties, accumulating 76:05 for an average sortie duration of 1:03.
It was great time to be assigned to George and the 479th Day Fighter Wing.  The A and C really taught me how to fly.  Many Korean Aces were at George and we learned a lot from them.  Of course, it was all Welded Wing, shut up, and check 6.  My first flight commander was Pete Fernandez, 14.5 MiG kills.  The As at George at the time of my checkout were all big tail As, but the concern remained from the short tail As about controlling adverse yaw, particularly getting behind the power curve … and particularly by brand new brown bars!  I remember well the guidance Pete gave me —- never let the jet get below 200Kts on the base to final turn.   Well, I figure if an ace with 14.5 MiG kills kept it at 200 Kts, I would add 5 or 10 Kts more just for my inexperience.  As you will remember the F100 drag chute limit for deployment was 180Kts. I would hate to tell you how many times after I lowered the nose gear I waited till it slowed below 180.  As a consequence, we blew a lot of tires (boy, the magnesium sure burns bright) trying to stop the jet before hitting the barrier.  That was accepted as the nature of the beast, but Bull Harris our Wing CC would ship you off to SAC missiles if you got a tail skid on touch down.  So we kept the power up even after Bob Hover demonstrated how to properly land the F-100.  Tail skid or worse got you an invite to the pleasures of sitting in a SAC missile silo.
I had the privilege of flying Pete’s wing many times while rat racing and he was by far the smoothest and easiest lead I ever flew with.
I flew Cs at George until Aug 58 when I transferred to Etain AB, France, and the F-100D.

General Gorton is a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours. These days you might find him winning prizes with a rod and reel.

 

(1): Https://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/in-the-museum-honor-roll-53884/#BwRZlSMyOFkeb0fY.99

Units Assigned

  • 1955 – 1955 94th Fighter Squadron, Nellis AFB, NV (F-86E/F)
  • 1955 – 1956 436th Fighter Day Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-100A)
  • 1956 – 1958 476th Fighter Day Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-100C)
  • 1958 – 1961 8th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Etain AB, France and Spangdahlem AB, Germany with one year with 112th and 111th Turkish TFS Eskisehir Tukey and six months with the 727th TFS Karup Denmark all in (F-100D)
  • 1961 – 1962 436th Tactical Fighter Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-104C)
  • 1962 – 1963 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-104C)
  • 1963 – 1965 ALO 1st Bde, 101 Abn Div, Ft Campbell, KY (F-84F with Springfield, IL ANG)
  • 1965 – 1966 ALO 1st Bde, 101 Abn Div, RVN (O-1)
  • 1966 – 1967 Fighter Ops, Hq TAC, Langley AFB, VA
  • 1967 – 1968 Univ of Omaha, Omaha, NE
  • 1968 – 1969 Air Command and Staff, Maxwell AFB, AL
  • 1969 – 1971 Hq USAF, AO in Plans and Policy, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
  • 1971 – 1972 Student, Canadian National Defense College, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 1972 – 1972 (6 months) B Course student in F4-Cs Luke AFB, AZ en route to Thailand
  • 1972 – 1973 Ex to the Dir Plans and Operations, Hq USAF, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
  • 1973 – 1976 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, ADO, DO and Vice CC, Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ (A-7)
  • 1976 – 1977 602nd Tactical Control Wing CC (OV-10, O-2)
  • 1977 – 1978 Staff officer in DO shop at Hq TAC, Langley AFB, VA
  • 1978 – 1980 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, CC (F-4E)
  • 1980 – 1981 832nd Air Division CC, Luke AFB, AZ (F-4C, F-15, F-104G, F-5)
  • 1981 – 1982 Dir Plans, Hq TAC, Langley AFB, VA
  • 1982 – 1984 Director of Operational Requirements, Hq USAF, Pentagon
  • 1984 – 1985 16th AF CC, Torrejon AB, Spain (F-16)
  • Retired from USAF, October 1, 1985

Awards & Decorations

 Distinguished Service Medal
 Legion of Merit (with oak leaf cluster)
 Distinguished Flying Cross (with oak leaf cluster)
 Bronze Star Medal
 Meritorious Service Medal (with 2 oak leaf clusters)
 Air Medal (4 oak leaf clusters)
 Air Force Commendation Medal
 Army Commendation Medal (with oak leaf cluster)
 Combat Readiness Medal

Flight Info

F-86E/F
F-100 A/C/D
F-104 C/G
F-84
O-1
O-2
A-7
OV-10
F-4 C/E
F-5
F-15
F-16

Military Education

1954 Enlisted AvCavs
1955 Pilot Class 55 O
1961 Squadron Officer’s Course
1969 Air Command and Staff DG
1971-1972 Canadian National Defense College

Civilian Education

1952 Cocoa HS
1952 1952-1953 Georgia Tech
1968 BGS University of Omaha
1969 MBA Auburn University

I checked out in the F-100A on 20 January 1956 and flew A’s till 30 Apr 1956 when we got F-100C’s.  Flew C’s till I transferred to Etain AB in August 1958.

Biography

Biography

In his words… “It never dawned on me that I wouldn’t be a fighter pilot,” says retired Air Force Major General William Gorton. His father, A.W. Gorton, was U.S. Navy aviator # 1,720, a test pilot, a member of the U.S. Navy racing team, and winner of the Curtiss Marine Flying Trophy. “What surprised me,” Gorton continues, “was that I ended up in the Air Force instead of the Navy. But that was on the advice of my father. In 1954 the Air Force was expanding and my father thought I would have a greater chance of flying fighters in the Air Force. So in February 1954, I went up to Jacksonville, Florida, and enlisted in the aviation cadet program. From the first actual fighter I flew, the F-86, until the last fighter I flew the day before I retired—the F-16—I was fortunate to do exactly what I set out to do.”

For six years, Gorton’s ride was the F-100. “In 1956, I was full of attitude and not much brains, and the F-100 was by far the hottest airplane in the inventory at that time. And it had some fascinating idiosyncrasies about it. It taught me an awful lot.”(1) In 31 years in the AF, I was fortunate to be operationally qualified to fly the best fighters in the Air Force.

It was, however, the six years in the Hun that taught me the most and demanded the most of my limited skills. A great jet with no two landings exactly the same!

I flew the F-100A-20 from 18 Jan 1956 to 4 Apr 1956.  I flew it for 74 sorties, accumulating 76:05 for an average sortie duration of 1:03.
It was great time to be assigned to George and the 479th Day Fighter Wing.  The A and C really taught me how to fly.  Many Korean Aces were at George and we learned a lot from them.  Of course, it was all Welded Wing, shut up, and check 6.  My first flight commander was Pete Fernandez, 14.5 MiG kills.  The As at George at the time of my checkout were all big tail As, but the concern remained from the short tail As about controlling adverse yaw, particularly getting behind the power curve … and particularly by brand new brown bars!  I remember well the guidance Pete gave me —- never let the jet get below 200Kts on the base to final turn.   Well, I figure if an ace with 14.5 MiG kills kept it at 200 Kts, I would add 5 or 10 Kts more just for my inexperience.  As you will remember the F100 drag chute limit for deployment was 180Kts. I would hate to tell you how many times after I lowered the nose gear I waited till it slowed below 180.  As a consequence, we blew a lot of tires (boy, the magnesium sure burns bright) trying to stop the jet before hitting the barrier.  That was accepted as the nature of the beast, but Bull Harris our Wing CC would ship you off to SAC missiles if you got a tail skid on touch down.  So we kept the power up even after Bob Hover demonstrated how to properly land the F-100.  Tail skid or worse got you an invite to the pleasures of sitting in a SAC missile silo.
I had the privilege of flying Pete’s wing many times while rat racing and he was by far the smoothest and easiest lead I ever flew with.
I flew Cs at George until Aug 58 when I transferred to Etain AB, France, and the F-100D.

General Gorton is a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours. These days you might find him winning prizes with a rod and reel.

 

(1): Https://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/in-the-museum-honor-roll-53884/#BwRZlSMyOFkeb0fY.99

Units - Education - Awards - Flight Info

Units Assigned

  • 1955 – 1955 94th Fighter Squadron, Nellis AFB, NV (F-86E/F)
  • 1955 – 1956 436th Fighter Day Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-100A)
  • 1956 – 1958 476th Fighter Day Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-100C)
  • 1958 – 1961 8th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Etain AB, France and Spangdahlem AB, Germany with one year with 112th and 111th Turkish TFS Eskisehir Tukey and six months with the 727th TFS Karup Denmark all in (F-100D)
  • 1961 – 1962 436th Tactical Fighter Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-104C)
  • 1962 – 1963 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron, George AFB, CA (F-104C)
  • 1963 – 1965 ALO 1st Bde, 101 Abn Div, Ft Campbell, KY (F-84F with Springfield, IL ANG)
  • 1965 – 1966 ALO 1st Bde, 101 Abn Div, RVN (O-1)
  • 1966 – 1967 Fighter Ops, Hq TAC, Langley AFB, VA
  • 1967 – 1968 Univ of Omaha, Omaha, NE
  • 1968 – 1969 Air Command and Staff, Maxwell AFB, AL
  • 1969 – 1971 Hq USAF, AO in Plans and Policy, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
  • 1971 – 1972 Student, Canadian National Defense College, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 1972 – 1972 (6 months) B Course student in F4-Cs Luke AFB, AZ en route to Thailand
  • 1972 – 1973 Ex to the Dir Plans and Operations, Hq USAF, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
  • 1973 – 1976 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, ADO, DO and Vice CC, Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ (A-7)
  • 1976 – 1977 602nd Tactical Control Wing CC (OV-10, O-2)
  • 1977 – 1978 Staff officer in DO shop at Hq TAC, Langley AFB, VA
  • 1978 – 1980 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, CC (F-4E)
  • 1980 – 1981 832nd Air Division CC, Luke AFB, AZ (F-4C, F-15, F-104G, F-5)
  • 1981 – 1982 Dir Plans, Hq TAC, Langley AFB, VA
  • 1982 – 1984 Director of Operational Requirements, Hq USAF, Pentagon
  • 1984 – 1985 16th AF CC, Torrejon AB, Spain (F-16)
  • Retired from USAF, October 1, 1985

Awards & Decorations

 Distinguished Service Medal
 Legion of Merit (with oak leaf cluster)
 Distinguished Flying Cross (with oak leaf cluster)
 Bronze Star Medal
 Meritorious Service Medal (with 2 oak leaf clusters)
 Air Medal (4 oak leaf clusters)
 Air Force Commendation Medal
 Army Commendation Medal (with oak leaf cluster)
 Combat Readiness Medal

Flight Info

F-86E/F
F-100 A/C/D
F-104 C/G
F-84
O-1
O-2
A-7
OV-10
F-4 C/E
F-5
F-15
F-16

Military Education

1954 Enlisted AvCavs
1955 Pilot Class 55 O
1961 Squadron Officer’s Course
1969 Air Command and Staff DG
1971-1972 Canadian National Defense College

Civilian Education

1952 Cocoa HS
1952 1952-1953 Georgia Tech
1968 BGS University of Omaha
1969 MBA Auburn University

F-100A

I checked out in the F-100A on 20 January 1956 and flew A’s till 30 Apr 1956 when we got F-100C’s.  Flew C’s till I transferred to Etain AB in August 1958.