WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Robert ‘Russ’ Adams grew up in Liberal while attending an aeronautics school in Tulsa, he decided on a whim to visit an Air Force recruiter.
Little did he know that split-second decision would begin his journey quite literally around the world.
“All I’ve done is flown from Thailand, Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii, England, Africa, Oman, and Spain.”
For Adams, it might be easier to count the places he hasn’t visited.
“I’ve not seen the Phillippines.”
He trained in the Texas desert.
“I knew I really didn’t wanna load bombs on airplanes which was offered to me, and I took air refueling.”
Then, headed to the snowy shores of Labrador, Canada starting his career as a boom operator.
“Our mission was to refuel bombers towards the Soviet Union.”
A job, which at times, put everything Adams knew to the test.
“I’ve refueled without, with minimum lighting just using moonlight reflecting over the ocean surfaces.”
Spending most of his time refueling over the ocean flying up to 13 hours at a time.
“Back there, in the lower speeds, it gets darn cold.”
During Vietnam, the majority of his missions involved flying over Thailand and Cambodia.
“We saw a lot of 105 refuelings in southeast Asia, F-4s.”
One mission would send Adams from Florida to Oman. Shortly after landing, restrictions forced the plane to depart for Greece. The entire journey lasted 27 hours.
“Everyone went to Athens, and out to eat, and visit Athens, and I slept for three days.”
During Desert Storm, Adams would fly in support of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and trained with the Egyptian Air Force.
“We saw the Sphinx and the three pyramids,” said Adams. “I thought I’d never live to see it from my eighth-grade geography book.”
Adams would serve for 22 years at McConnell and Offutt Air Base keeping planes flying high no matter how far.
“It’s not, it’s not like stepping off of a ship and getting shore leave when you land an airplane and get 12 hours sleep, where you’re going to get up the next morning, and you’re going to go fly that airplane somewhere else.”
Despite his travels, which have landed him in Hoisington where he lives today, one of Adams’ favorite memories was actually here in the Sunflower State when he got to present the coveted silver tray to the winner of the International Pancake Day Race.
Adams racked up more than 8,700 flying hours during his service and recently traveled on a Kansas Honor Flight.