Lt. Col. Pat "Gums" McAdoo (Ret)


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Gums during the Vietnam war sitting in the cockpit of an A-7D. Please give us an overview of your military career and tell the readers a little about yourself?

Pat: Air Force Academy grad, 1964. (Graduated) Very high in pilot training class and chose the F-102A. USAF began closing down F-102 bases, so was transferred to F-101B (not my choice, but a soldier is a soldier).

Volunteered for A-37 in Vietnam and flew over 300 combat missions there 1968-1969. Then was instructor pilot in A-37 until 1972.

Got an A-7D assignment to Myrtle Beach, S.C. then deployed with 354th TFW to Korat Royal Thailand Air Base in Oct 1972. Flew close air support in South VietNam, Laos and Cambodia. Also flew as search and rescue "Sandy" after USAF gave the South VietNam air force the last Skyraiders and the A-7 picked up the mission.

Flew a few missions over Hanoi during the Christmas blitz, 1972.

Back to Korat in 1975 for final stage of the conflict and led the last flight of fighter-bombers out of the whole theater in December of 1975.

16th TFTS patch (Jon Somerville collection)

Instructor at Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama from 1976 to 1979.

Volunteered and was accepted as Chief of Academics for first F-16 unit in the world - 16th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. Reported in June 1979 to Hill AFB, Utah.

Flew with all the squadrons there until June 1984, when I retired. Also flew with the 419th TFW, USAF Reserve during the last few months.

Moved to Florida, near Eglin AFB and was a consulting engineer until 1997. Did cockpit displays and weapon integration for many planes and weapons. Tell about being in Vietnam? What did you experience there? Any big adventures?

Pat: I volunteered to go there in 1967 when the handwriting was on the wall. If we volunteered, we got a choice of planes. If we waited around, we got something stupid.

I was asked by the A-37 Combat Dragon Joint Test Force if I would like to try that little beast. I accepted. Flew 300+ missions 1967-1968, including night interdiction over the Trail and some neat missions up near Hue during the '68 Tet.

Got my Silver Star for supporting US Army (9th ID, as I recall) during May of 1968 on the outskirts of Saigon. Bad guys were in a warehouse complex and had just blown up a US personnel carrier. Watched it all happen. RPG (Rocket Propelled Granades) shoots out, personnel carrier explodes, sheesh!!! We weren't supposed to bomb yet, as friendly artillery was still coming in around the place. So I asked the forward air controller if that was the place, and he said yes. I told him I was rolling in, as I could still see the smoke trail from the RPG that the bad guys had fired. He told me that we weren't cleared until the arty stopped. I told him I was gonna do it anyway. He came back and cleared me in hot. Whammo!!! 500 pounder right on their heads. My wingie rolled in right behind and cleaned up. The Army guys put me in for the medal, as they claimed we made their day a lot easier from then on.

A few weeks before, I deadsticked my A-37 into Tan Son Nhut International after being hit really bad about 20-25 miles south of there. I think I was the only fighter pilot to deadstick a jet during the whole war. They shot up my fuel lines so bad that I literally pumped out the gas faster than the engines could burn it. One engine had started to smoke, so I shut it down and used the other one to get as far as I could. We had not practiced flameout landings, as it was against USAF policy for fighter/attack jets at that time. So I used the numbers from my days in the T-33, and they worked out really well. Strangely, the paperwork for that feat got screwed up and the only thing I received was a lot of admiration from my buddies. Heh heh.

Got my DFC for assuming the lead of my flight following loss of navaids by my flight lead. Was first time I ever lead a flight during that tour. Weather was really bad and we had to gradually descend to about 200-300 feet out east of Hue. Popped out of clouds right in front of a huge US Navy cruiser and had to climb to clear his antennae. Turned back to the land and followed river up the the Citadel, where some US Marines were in dire straits. The ceiling was much better - 1500 feet or so. We dropped and made the grunts real happy.

Photograph from Squadron Publications 'A-7 in Combat' and note that the squadron is the 356th TFS Green Demons not the 353rd TFS as in the caption.

I went back in fall of 1972 in the A-7D. Flew three missions over Hanoi during the Christmas blitz, and flew as a 'Sandy' search and rescue pilot a few times over North Vietnam. We had given all the A-1 Skyraiders to the 'Vee', and I volunteered to be a Sandy when USAF decied the A-7D would be the next Sandy.

Went back in 1975 for the real end of the war. Arrived the day before we evacuated Saigon, so didn't fly. On the other hand, I led the last flight of attack jets outta the whole damned war in December 1975. I posted a JPEG of the newspaper article on the F-16 net. What is your call sign and how did you get it?

Pat: Besides the fact that my real world gums went bad in 1988, I was known as "Gatling Gums", "20 mouth-mouth", "Lightning Lips", etc from the early 70's. Talked real fast and often, heh heh. seemed a natural callsign. What is your most memorable flight in the Viper either positive or negative?

Pat: Hard to choose between landing the plane with the leading edge flap folded up or my last flight, where I retired right on the flightline. Would go with the LEF landing, as it was the first time anyone did it and lived to talk about it.

F-16A (78-0044) 'Gums' was flying when the leading edge bent up. That is interesting about the LEF landing. What happened, please give an account of the event?

Pat: I was the first Viper pilot to successfully land the thing with a failed leading edge flap. Was early spring/late winter 1982. Maybe 20 March, tail number 044, as that log entry shows 0.3 hours and a precision approach. Weather was not all that keen. Have the HUD video in VHS format (see it with us now!).

Maintenance troops had failed to insert a 'keeper' bolt that is supposed to keep the flap drive tubes from slipping apart. It's like a cotter key on a bolt. The flap drive motor has a spline gear on it and the drive tube has gear teeth that match up. So the drive tube gradually slipped out from the motor spline gear. When I rotated, the drive tube slid all the way out and the leading edge flap went up until the wing upper surface stopped it. Maybe 50-60 degrees. Another troop had his fail a few months later and the flap went to 90 degrees because he was going a lot faster when the drive tube failed. So I was at 160 knots and holding full left stick. Post-flight data revealed that I had about one pound of control authority for banking left. So I was holding 15-16 pounds of left stick the whole time.

I stayed at 170-180 knots, as I could still maintain control and wasn't gonna play Chuck Yeager more than I had to. Nevertheless, I was the first troop to fly the thing in that configuration, so everything was new territory. Bunted over to get opposite flap 2 degrees up and locked the flaps (LEF's go up when bunting over, or when weight is on wheels). I now had both LEF's up, and it seemed to help with the roll authority. Additionally, that other flap wasn't gonna be moving all over the place, and this kept things a little more predictable.

Came around on the ILS and landed in one helluva crab. The drag was so great that I almost landed short when I pulled off the power. As I was coming in a lot hotter than normal, I thought I would land long. heh heh, sucker dropped like a rock and I was able to make a mid-field turn off.

F-16A (78-0044) Gums saved this aircraft a couple of years later when the leading edge extension folded straight up during a flight. (Photo by SMSgt Phil Lewis on January 17th, 1980) How many hours do you have in the F-16?

Pat: About 600 hours before I retired. I was a staff weenie and didn't fly as much as the normal toads. Other than the F-16, what aircraft have you flown? And how does the Viper compare?

Pat: F-102A, F-101B, A-37A, A-7D, T-33A. Viper turned like the F-102, climbed like the VooDoo, dropped bombs as good or better than A-7D. Viper had best visibility of anything, and still has best of any jet in the world that I've seen. Any fond memories of a specific deployment or exercise?

Pat: Red Flag/Green Flag in 1982 or 83, can't pin it down. Wingman and I escaped and evaded through the hills and a SA-6 site tried to get us over and over with no success. They showed the video from the SAM site at the mass debrief.

Some of Gums favorite poetry, he uses the last line in his posts on the forum. (Photo by Jon Somerville) What assignment/squadron was your favorite?

Pat: Best assignment was the 356th TFS at Myrtle Beach in the A-7D. All six of our flight had two or three combat tours and all lived to retire from USAF. Is there any particular F-16 tail number to which you are fond?

Pat: Best one was "007". A real early one, and we all liked having that tail number in the log book. Tell our readers about the early days for the F-16 at Hill AFB?

Pat: I showed up at Hill in June 1979. GD and USAF test pilots had flown the prototype for 6 years. But the first production models were finally arriving at the first operational unit.

Gums enjoying champagne on his last flight also wearing the hat and scarf he wore during the last jet attack flights of the Vietnam war.

So our tail numbers were really spooky. Double Ought One, etc. Favorite was 007, of course.

The really neatest thing about flying a new jet, a really new jet - we didn't have official USAF tech orders. No kidding. First few months I was there we used a Xerox copy of the Edwards' flight test Dash One. We also had no 'rules'. So all of our emergency procedures were word-of-mouth until the official technical orders and flight manuals came out.

Man, those were the days. What advice would you give junior Viper pilots?

16th TFTS F-16B (78-0082) at Hill AFB, Utah. (USAF photo)

Pat: Pick the brains of the old troops. Have a thick skin. Don't 'crow' about waxing some poor dweeb. Most important - the kill ratio of hitting the ground is 100%, the kill ratio of the best missiles and enemy fighter pilots is less. Any words of advice to any of our young readers wanting to join the military or fly the Viper?

Pat: 1) Don't do drugs. 2) Study hard in school 3) Do stuff besides sitting in front of a computer, like fishing, athletics, singing in the church choir, gardening, Boy Scouts, Civil Air Patrol, washing airplanes at local field in return for free flights. Thank you for the interview!

- Lt.Col. Pat McAdoo was interviewed online by Jon Somerville in April of 2004 -

Visitor Comments
elp, Jul 12, 2004 - 10:16 PM

WTG Gums !!

EriktheF16462, Jul 13, 2004 - 05:24 PM

Great interview!

Qman, Jul 13, 2004 - 06:33 PM

Superb reading, Gums!

thomas.warton, Jul 13, 2004 - 10:29 PM

U - Da - Man Gums...Gald you made it home. Nice career, I salute you....Sir!

Scooby (scobe+), Jul 14, 2004 - 01:34 AM

Great read Gums!!! Hehee your callsign still fits ya in WarBirds :O)

Tom, Jul 14, 2004 - 02:50 AM

We are honored to have guys like you serving this great USA! Thanks for your dedicated service!

Jay (scorpion), Jul 14, 2004 - 10:20 AM

Great read, thanks for the head's up on the email group Pat!

Duke, Jul 14, 2004 - 10:27 PM

Gums - awsome read :)

Anonymous, Jul 15, 2004 - 04:21 AM

Thanks, and welcome home Gums. From an old paratrooper.

MP, Jul 16, 2004 - 08:29 PM

Hey, that was nice Gums, I'm going into IFT this August, when done with that the wings will be mine. I think that I'm the first Russian to go into the US Air Force as a pilot. God bless the USA.

Habu, Jul 17, 2004 - 12:04 AM

And Obi-Gums speaketh....and they listened....and it was good....

Ridge Runner, Jul 21, 2004 - 11:54 PM

Quite a read Gums, when is the book coming out ;-)

David, Sep 16, 2004 - 10:53 PM

Hi Pat, I just want to thank you your service in the arm forces.

Anonymous, Sep 28, 2004 - 11:54 PM

Awesome read, Gums! You've got an impressive record. It's people like you who got me interested in aeronautical science and the armed forces. BTW, thanks for being my hero in an english assignment. :)

Lizking, Aug 14, 2005 - 09:58 PM

Hey Gums, a big S! Lizking

Anonymous, Aug 14, 2005 - 10:32 PM

Heya Gums. I knew you were a hot dog, I just didn't know you were a footlong hot dog. Congrats on the article, great, great stuff! Wingnut 487th

tone, Jun 26, 2007 - 06:45 PM

Gums.. .miss seeing ya since that great shrimp boil! You gotta digitize those VHS tapes!

jim, Sep 05, 2010 - 11:53 PM

I remember working with you in the dirty shop at hill afb. It seems like yesterday.

Dan (bluzoo)
Anonymous, Mar 30, 2011 - 05:16 PM

Great read and thanks for your service. Was offered dream job "Fighter Crew Chief" one day. Said if F16 Hill AFB I would do it. They called me up and said come down in morning and I had it.

Got there in 4th TFS when squad brand new in F16s. Spent several weeks with old SSgt doing TCTO's so learned the plane real fast. The Sgt's claim to fame was having been exposed to hydozin more than any. Does that bring back memorys? Went through the asymetry brake hastle that killed the GD engineers sleep for along time. We all worked hard and traveled alot in those days. After a stint in Germany they "pulled" me back there to run an APG flight, again 4th, and finaly retire in 88. It was a pleasure to have worked with you. The outfit was flush with the best people and Ill never forget the times. I agree the F16 even today is the best in the world and still sets the standard.

Great Read, Col.
Norm Stutts (Bearcat), Aug 20, 2011 - 10:27 PM

Enjoyed reading your interview. The F-16 was not much like the days in Grand Forks, was it?

cruiser123, Feb 14, 2012 - 08:33 AM

I enjoyed a lot while reading the interview. Thanks a lot .

Days at Hill
Jerry Littleton, Jan 17, 2015 - 04:45 PM

Hi Pat,

Enjoyed reading your interview, and how crazy everything was in those days. You remember me....I was the Systems Engineer on the Titan II Millile system. Judith worked with my wife at the"Your Coumminity Connection, trying to save the world from itself. Hope you are still in good health, enjoying life!

Incidently, I like your call sign, Lightning Lips" I have used that sign myself, once for a Col. and another for a BG!

Write sometime, Jerry Littleton

Met at the water run off on College Blvd.
Tony, Feb 28, 2021 - 08:32 PM

Though I had no idea at the time of first speaking with you what caliber of an Airman you are, I could tell you were one of the greats. Very humble and very poised. I have 20 years served as enlsted and haven't yet decided to hang up the hat. I can't wait to hear more stories the next time I see you again down by the spill way.

Ben Franklin High
LEON SILL, Mar 04, 2021 - 05:55 AM

Are you the Pat McAdoo who used to pal around with Anthony Saladino and me? And nephew to Gen. McAdoo of USAF Reserve? I'm Leon Sill, one of your old buddies!

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