Tag Archives: hercules

The Marines Show Up

I could easily have missed this, but my friend messaged me that a Herc was coming in.  I was working on some other stuff and would have been unaware until too late.  It was not where I was, and I wasn’t moving but the roll out and taxiing back was in lovely light so I wasn’t missing out.  They taxied to the terminal and kept the engines running so I wondered if they were going straight back out but it wasn’t to be.  They then taxied to a parking spot and shut down.  Maybe they were clearing customs?  Apparently they stayed for the night but were gone when I came by the following day.

A More Dynamic Angle on Lynden at Last

I have had various encounters with the C-130s of Lynden Air Cargo over the years, but they have usually been a relatively normal side on type of shot.  I saw one of the aircraft had gone into Paine Field and I was fortunate that the departure was scheduled for a weekend day when I could get up there.  I decided at the last minute to make the trip up and, as I pulled up at my preferred location, a quick check of the phone showed the aircraft was already at the hold.

I got set up as rapidly as I could and then they were rolling.  The advantage of this location is that the plane will have rotated and is climbing out towards me.  The Herc is able to get out of short strips just fine, but it isn’t climbing too rapidly so I knew I should get something different to what I have taken before.  I quite liked the front quarter shot but the others were fine too.  I was then back in the car and home in a short time.  It was almost like I hadn’t been away, but I had got the result I wanted.

End of the Road for RAF Hercules Ops

It is a feature of getting old that so many things that seem recent really aren’t.  The introduction of the C-130J to service took place in the late 1990s.  One of the earliest operators was the Royal Air Force.  That means that their aircraft are coming up on 25 years old.  That is not that old for a Hercules but they have been used pretty intensively.  Combine that with the cost of supporting multiple transport fleets and it might not be so surprising that they are now being retired.

I figured I would roll through my collection of shots to see how often I had photographed the RAF J models.  The answer is not that often.  The fact that I left the UK not long after they came in to service is part of the reason.  I have seen them at various locations though so I am not without shots.  It is funny to hear the stories now about whether the A400M is ready to take on the role and whether the Hercs should be retained.

When the Js came along, there were loads of stories of how they couldn’t do the things that the old K models could.  Of course, they gradually ironed out the bugs and became a solid workhorse.  The same will probably happen for the A400M and in a couple of decades, someone will be complaining that whatever replaces them is unsuited to the task and that they should be retained.  Such is life…

Fat Albert Arrives First

Seafair means a lot of aircraft coming to Boeing Field.  The Blue Angels are always the feature part of the show and this was going to be my first chance to see their new aircraft.  Yes, they have replaced the Hornets with Super Hornets and I shall cover that separately but they have also replaced Fat Albert since last I saw them.  The C-130T has been replaced with a C-130J that was sold to them by the Royal Air Force.  It has a new paint scheme to complement this change of era.

I was at Boeing Field for the arrival of the Blues and the jets were preceded by the arrival of Albert.  The good thing is that it is tractable on ADSB so I knew it was going to arrive and when.  Of course, a Herc coming down the approach is not as dramatic as a bunch of Super Bugs blasting over in formation but it is still good.  I did manage to catch it again in the coming days as part of the display so had more than one chance to get some shots.

Spanish Hercules Retirement

I understand that the Spanish Air Force is retiring (or has retired) their C-130 fleet.  I guess with the A400Ms coming into service, the Hercs were done.  I have not had much interaction with Spanish C-130s but here are a couple of shots to mark their end of service.

A Spanish Air Force KC-130 Hercules launches out of Nellis AFB to provide refueling support to a Red Flag mission.

MC-130 on Exercise

In this previous post about the hangars at Moffett Field, I mentioned that I was there to cover an exercise.  The MC-130s were a big part of the exercise.  They were loading up and launching down to remote landing strips on the California coast.  The holds were full of equipment including off road vehicles.  Loading these up was a tight fit.  While the crews spent time getting everything ready to go, I was reasonably free to wander around the airframe and get some shots.

Here are some that I got that day.  These were some of the oldest Combat Shadow (and maybe Hercules) airframes around at the time and I suspect that they have been replaced by now, I think by Combat King J models.

Marine Corps Herc

The heat haze was a bit of a problem on this day so I was hoping that they would roll out a bit long to get into usable range.  They couldn’t have been more obliging.  It turned out to be a US Marine Corps KC-130J.  They didn’t exit early for the taxiway even though they could have done so with ease but instead rolled all the way to near me before exiting and taxiing back to the ramp in the other direction.  This was very kind of them.  I got them close enough in to have little in the way of heat haze and to get a decent look at them.

Waiting Around Gets You a Herc!

I was at BFI one day looking to get some other interesting visitors and I had got what I came for.  I was just contemplating whether to go home or do something else before returning when I saw something on the approach at the other end of the field.  It looked big, smoky and a prop so I thought I should wait a little longer.  A look through the long lens told me it was a C-130!  It was a Linden Air Cargo airframe, sadly unpainted in their colors which are very nice. I was most glad that I hadn’t been in a hurry to get on my way!

Lots of Prop Vortices

Departure day at RIAT was a bit overcast, much like the majority of the show.  The damp atmosphere did have the positive effect of meaning many of the more powerful prop aircraft were pulling vortices from the tips of their propellers.  This was most obvious earlier in their take off runs but you could get a  pretty good view of it even head on from where I was sitting in the FRIAT stand.  Here is one of the Hercs that was beating the air into submission.

Hercules Tankers at Nellis

B11I4296.jpgRed Flag 16-4 was a bit unusual in that tanker support was not what you normally see.  No KC-135s were taking part.  The Israeli Air Force had brought some 707s for tanking there jets.  The rest of the tankers were KC-130s.  An MC-130J showed up although I don’t know whether it was part of the exercise or just there coincidentally.  The Spanish Air Force brought their KC-130s to support the Hornets.  Seeing a camouflaged Herc is a nice change given how most of them are monotone these days.  It doesn’t hurt that, since tankers tend to recover late, they came back as the light was getting very nice.