On the 23rd of August, 1954, the first C-130 Hercules took to the air. They’ve been in production ever since. That’s an incredible 60 years. They’re still rolling off the lines.
I’ve ridden in Hercs flown by the active Air Force, the Air Force Reserves, the Air National Guard, and even by the Marines.
The Hercules is best known as a tactical intra-theater airlifter, moving up to 92 troops, or 64 paratroopers. That’s still its primary job.
But such a sound basic design has lent it to adaptation to other roles as well. Famously, the various gunship versions of the AC-130 have been with us for well over 40 years. But it also served as a maritime patrol plane, a search and rescue platform, and electronic reconnaissance bird, an airborne command post, and airborne early warning radar post, an aerial ambulance, a weather reconnaissance plane, a drone launcher and controller, a special operations platform, a bomber, a tanker, a firefighter, an electronic jammer, a psychological operations platform, VIP transport, civilian freighter, and a satellite recovery system.
Well over 2,300 Hercs have rolled off the line in Marietta, GA. The list of countries that operate the C-130 is so long, it’s its own wikipedia entry.
It may usually land on concrete, but it’s perfectly happy to land on dirt. Or even on steel.
It can drop heavy loads via parachute, or LAPES.
It also put on a pretty good airshow!
Happy Birthday to one of my favorite all time planes, the Mighty Lockheed C-130 Hercules!