Friday, March 20, 2015

The Friday Flyby - March 2015

C-130 Hercules, 86th Airlift Wing, 2008 (USAF Photo by SrA Melissa Sheffield)
When I was on active duty, long long ago, there were three aircraft which the Air Force used for the bulk of their cargo transport: the C-5 Galaxy, the C-141 Starlifter and the star of today's Flyby, the C-130 Hercules.

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:
  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • Republic of China
  • Colombia
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • France
  • Gabon
  • Greece
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Republic of Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Sweden
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Republic of Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zambia
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)
Of course, this was waaaayyyyyyy back in the late '70s, the older birds had four-bladed props. But as you can see, the propeller, "she no spinny".

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!


  1. I love to watch the big planes circling, touching down, and taking off, when we drive through Altus, OK.

    1. We get the same over at Quonset Point, it's quite a sight.

  2. Hooray, a Friday Flyby!

    And it provides a subject for a post! A Twofer!

    Good job, Sarge, as always!

    1. Well, I figured I was due to do one of these (this is the first of 2015) and I remembered seeing one of these fly over the house a couple of days ago.

      I even took a picture if you recall. So, C-130s get their day in the sun (so to speak). Glad I gave you an idea too.

  3. Great post Sarge.

    Spent a little time in those noisy basements. Had a flight deck crash/mass casualty drill during workups one time where the presumed crashee was a C-130 loaded with refugees. That's the day I learned that Herks can indeed operate from carriers.

    1. 'Tis a great aircraft. A classic even, right up there with the C-47 in my book.

  4. Cool plane, that C-130. First plane I ever flew in as a high school AFROTC student back in my younger days. And with no windows save a couple of little portholes that we all had to take turns at, I felt like a mouse being carried in box. But we did amuse ourselves by running back and forth as a group, bulkhead to tail, throwing off the trim until the pilot showed us that he could play that game too, only better. We all got dirty and bruised a bit from that demonstration of physics applied to unsecured cargo, ("turbulence", the pilot claimed,) but those were the days when kids weren't considered precious little snowflakes and parents didn't think of filing lawsuits when we got what we had coming. Damn, that was fun!

    1. Experienced a little zero g did we? Well, zero g never hurt anyone, it's the abrupt application of positive g that brings all that floating bliss to a crashing halt. A little Situational Awareness would have issued a warning when the load master strapped in to his seat.

    2. Gee Murph, so you've been like this since childhood. (Thought there was something I liked about you!)

    3. Juvat's right (of course), always watch the loadmaster.

      If he/she is walking around, you're good. If it's because they're getting to the parachutes? Not so good. If they're strapped in, I'm strapped in (and praying!)

  5. Here's an interesting thought... The C-130 was flying in 1954, the Forrestal was commissioned in 1955 and has now been scrapped. Having spent some time on both I prefer the C-130! Doing a quick search I found that a 1954 C-130A is registered here in AZ to International Air Response as N117TG. How's that for an airframe?

    1. Wow, that's pretty cool. You should seek that bird out and maybe take your camera. (Hint, hint.)

  6. Another excellent flyby!! Thanks. Just curious, did you ever get the dubious privilege or taking a whiz in the
    "tube" during one of the flights? Quite interesting if there's any turbulence!

    1. Funny you should mention the tube. While seeking to make use of that, I noted the view of the Philippine coast mentioned above. After doing my business (flight was smooth, thank you) I hung out and watched the scenery. Until I noticed the loadmaster strap in.

  7. Spent a lot of time in the Herky Bird over 32 years. Between the C130, C141, C123 and C7 Caribou I have about 70 more take offs than landings....

    1. Well you did land, just not in what you took off in.

      (Insert obligatory "jumping out of perfectly good airplanes" comment here. It's what "legs" do.)

    2. OAFS,

      No such thing as a perfectly good airplane- that's why they pay the crews more to stay up in them.

    3. That may be the best response I've ever heard to that comment!

    4. Juvat, so that's why they invented flight pay!

  8. RE Photo on tarmac. Never realized what a square wing is on the C-130. Looks like it came off a U-2.

    1. Yes, very squared off wing tips. Wings don't look big enough to haul all that tonnage do they?

  9. Those new props just don't sound right... sigh...

  10. I used to brief the aircrews at o dark thirty after a night of wild TDY. After seeing them stumble in and stumble out, I appreciated the MOS choice of the SF troops I briefed later that morning...jumping out seems like a reasonable choice

    MSG Grumpy

    1. Viewed in that light, yeah, good choice. Any old drunk can take off, but can they land?

  11. Here is my favorite C130 story...there I was (I LOVE that cliche) I was asked if I wanted to assist a jump with my supported Army brothers the 19th SFG Army Guard out of Utah, so there we are all buttoned up inside a C130 on a lovely Sunday morn, stuffed to the gills with young jumpers. I heard after the ride that the aircrew was upset because they had to spend their Sunday morning dropping Army guys out instead of down time with the family...I don't know if that was true or not, but it did seem reasonable considering what happened. We took off and headed south, after 20 minuets the plane goes into a dive and then banks hard, for the next half hour I felt the capabilities this aircraft can perform. I had the privilege of sitting next to one of the little portholes and was able to see some of the terrain as it went past. The disturbing part was the number of times that I looked up and saw trees and cliffs race by. Well, there is one major problem with extreme nap of the earth flying when you have a bay full of young Army pukes who just had a big Army breakfast. Of course it didn't help that the aircrew had also shut off all the vents, that basement was HOT. Yep, I was aboard a real life vomit comet. Ohhh Joy. At one point which seemed to be several days into this nightmare, I noticed the LM yelling into the intercom and shortly after that we leveled out and the vents came on, then came the bad news, we reached the DZ and, Surprise Surprise Surprise, the winds were to high and the jump was scrubbed. The Army guys were NOT happy. It was a quiet and very smooth ride back, since the jump was canx due to weather and since I was a weather guy I kept my mouth shut helped out with the clean up. It is fun looking back on it, but it wasn't quite as much fun at the time.

    MSG Grumpy

  12. Just noticed, the still on the AC-130H is backwards. The guns are actually on the AC side of the aircraft, left side if army, port side if Naval.

    1. Absolutely right. You mentioned it, I looked, couldn't believe I didn't notice before.

      Damn, I'm getting old!


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