Robert Aitken “Bob” Rushworth (October 9, 1924 – March 18, 1993) was an American United States Air Force major general, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War pilot, mechanical and aeronautical engineer, test pilot and Astronaut. He was...Read More
James M. Hinkle
I wanted to fly fighters since I was old enough to know what they were and the F-100 since I was 14.
I was 30 before my first F-100 flight on January 24, 1969. I was also married, had a two-year-old son and four years as a T-33/38 instructor pilot. The rated assignments folks at Military Personnel Center told me I couldn’t leave ATC until I completed four years as an IP. That didn’t stop me from calling the fighter assignment guy on a regular basis. He finally said tell him what airplane I wanted and where I wanted to train and stop pestering him! My answer: The F-100 at Luke. He kept his word.
The Hun was probably not the wisest career choice since it was old and on the way out. The future belonged to the F-4. However, I never regretted my decision. I was assigned to the 4511 CCTS at Luke AFB, commanded by the legendary Leslie R. (Les) Leavoy, for “full up” fighter training. This included nuclear weapons training and deliveries. While not thrilled about this, I came to really appreciate the training because I was fortunate to receive an in-theater (USAFE) checkout in the F-4D with the 23TFS.
Three weeks at the gunnery range at Zaragoza AB, Spain, with a dedicated IP and aircraft, a check ride and wham – a “Victor Alert” i.e. nuclear alert. No sweat for a Hun pilot. F-100 training at Luke began by viewing the “Sabre Dance.” That was followed by an eye-opening flying demonstration of severe adverse yaw where the F-100 rolled violently in the opposite direction intended. That certainly had my attention. But we had great Instructors that taught us how to understand the Hun. The F-100 was prickly but honest. It would do exactly as promised.
From Luke, my wife and son moved into the old James Connally AFB housing in Waco, TX. I attended jungle survival training at Clark AFB, then arrived at Tuy Hoa AB, RVN on August 21, 1969, where I flew with the 355TFS and later with Commando Sabre (Misty F-100F fast FACs).
Flying the F-100 whether in peace or war was never dull. Some of my memorable recollections, like realizing that someone was trying to kill me other than a student pilot and a specific mission to Mugia Pass, a location known to most fighter crews in SEA.
Other memorable moments were: an extreme “compressor stall” where flames came out both ends of the plane, my feet were kicked off the rudder pedals and (it seemed to me) every warning light lit up like a Christmas tree. It happened in Laos on a Misty sortie paying some 23 and 37mm gun sites a visit; In-flight refueling where the fuel hose tried to play jump rope with the aircraft; My first drag chute failure; Engine failure on takeoff with a full bomb load no less; Heavyweight takeoff on a hot windless day.
Once, I was “fragged” out of UBON AB, Thailand after diverting for low fuel. The tower traffic controllers were accustomed to seeing F-4s leap off the ground halfway down the runway. I was blowing the dust off the overrun when one “wiseacker” asked if I had an emergency. My reply, “I’m heavyweight, single engine, minimum fuel, it’s called an F-100.” Then there was landing in a thunderstorm on AM2 aluminum matting. No theme park has yet devised as thrilling a ride.
I have a special affinity for F-100F 837 on display at the National Museum of the USAF. My first flight in Vietnam was in 837 for landing recurrency. During my tour, I flew it on several strike and Misty sorties. It was also the plane I flew on my last sortie in Vietnam and my last F-100 flight period.
- 1963-1964 Student Pilot, 3641st PTS, Laredo AFB, TX (T-37, T-33)
- 1964-1969 IP/3641st PTS, Training Officer/3640th Student Sq, ExecO/3640th PTW, Laredo AFB, TX (T-33, T-38)
- 1969 F-100 Training, Luke AFB, AZ (F-100)
- 1969-1970 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Tuy Hoa AB, RVN (F-100D)
- 1970 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Det 1, Misty FAC, Tuy Hoa AB, RVN (F-100F)
- 1970-1972 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem AB,GE (F-4D)
- 1972-1973 HQ USAFE IG, Lindsey AS, GE (RF-4C)
- 1973-1974 401st Tactical Fighter Wing, Torrejon AB, Spain (F-4C)
- 1974 ACSC
- 1975-1979 HQ USAF, Pentagon, Wash DC
- 1979 43rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, AK (F-4E)
- 1980-1981 18th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, AK (F-4E)
- 1981-1982 ICAF
- 1982-1983 49th Tactical Fighter Wing, Holloman AFB, NM (F-15)
- 1983-1984 479th Tactical Fighter Training Wing, Holloman AFB, NM (AT-38)
- 1984-1985 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, George AFB, CA (F-4E)
- 1985-1988 HQ PACAF, DCS Plans, Hickam AFB, HI
- 1988-1992 USAF IG, Norton AFB, CA
Awards & Decorations
Distinguished Flying Cross
Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 14 Oak Leaf Clusters
AF Commendation Medal
Combat Readiness Medal
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Silver Star
Military & Civilian Education
- Industrial College of the Armed Forces
- Air Command and Staff College
- Squadron Officers School
- BS, University of Texas, Austin, TX
- MS, University of Arkansas