|C-130 Hercules, 86th Airlift Wing, 2008 (USAF Photo by SrA Melissa Sheffield)|
|C-5 Galaxy U.S. Air Force Photo|
|C-141 Starlifter U.S. Air Force Photo|
Sad to say, I never got a ride in the mighty C-5. I had a lot of hops to Korea on board the C-141 and even more trips on that most excellent aircraft, the C-130. My sole trip to the Philippines was on the C-130, there and back again (with apologies to Bilbo Baggins).
The mighty Hercules first flew on the 23rd of August in 1954. I was a year and some months old, so no, I don't remember that milestone.
The C-130 is the fifth aircraft in history to mark over 50 years in service with the original primary customer, in this case my old service, the U.S. Air Force. The others are the English Electric Canberra, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Tupolev Tu-95, and Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker.
(Hhmm, three of the five are USAF birds, I guess they don't design and build them like they used to.)
A lot of folks operate (or have operated) this superb aircraft since its inception:
- Republic of China
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- Republic of Korea
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Republic of Vietnam
That's a lot of satisfied customers. Though Lockheed Martin is one of my company's prime competitors, my hat's off to those folks, the Herky-Bird is one Hell of a fine aircraft.
Of course there's also a gunship version (or two, sucker is being updated all the time, what a great design!)
I've had an adventure or two on this bird.
On one TDY to Korea, a buddy and I actually had a "seat" near one of the very small portholes which pass for windows. (If one can call cargo netting a seat!) We could see the port side engines on the long flight (3 hours? - it's been a while since I've done that) and as we neared our destination in the Land of the Morning Calm, my buddy, Al, happened to notice that the #1 engine was not running and the prop was feathered.
|C-130J Super Hercules' 6 bladed Dowty Rotol R391 composite controllable- and reversible-pitch propellers - Adrian Pingstone Photo (Public domain)|
Al was a bit of a neophyte to the whole flying thing and rather new to the Air Force as well. (Though truth be told, I was no "grizzled veteran" at the time being all of about 25 or so.) He rather excitedly pointed out the "window" and said, "We've only got three engines!"
I looked outside, noted the feathered prop and then noted the nearly empty cargo bay. I turned back to Al and said, "Silly airman, we still have all four engines. We're only using three. Don't scare me like that."
Al calmed down somewhat. Until we landed in Korea.
Al looked out the "window" again and noticed all the emergency equipment lined up beside the runway. As we passed them, these fire fighting vehicles and ambulances and such drove out behind us and escorted us down the runway.
Al looked at me again, before he could say a word I just said, "Standard precaution Al, no sweat G.I.!"
A good, solid aircraft. Though riding in one is rather like being in a very noisy basement. You're either sweating or freezing, depending on how close you were to the vents. Not a whole lot of fun, but still, if you could see outside, it was pretty cool.
As we flew back to Korea from the Philippines, I watched the coast as we flew north out of Clark. Breathtaking scenery. On the way to Clark, I got to go up on the flight deck.
Harassed the navigator (who's radar scope looked a lot like the scope in the back seat of the F-4) and watched the pilots drink coffee and monitor the instruments. Hell of a view from that cockpit!
|C-130 Hercules cockpit - Hgrobe photo CC|
|C-130 on the tarmac - P. Alejandro Diaz Photo CC|
|Japanese C-130 (Public Domain Photo)|
|USMC KC-130F Hercules performing takeoffs and landings aboard the aircraft carrier Forrestal in 1963.|
The aircraft is now displayed at the National Museum of Naval Aviation. (US Navy photo)
Yup, gotta hand it to the Marines, if it can be done, they will do it.
Semper Fi! Oorah!
|I told ya! (US Navy photo)|
|Who says a 50-year old aircraft can't look bad ass!|