Lockheed C-130 Hercules – An Aviation Legend

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is one of aviation history’s great legends. First flown on August 23, 1954, this astounding airplane serves military and commercial operators around the world. More than 2300 have been delivered.

Canada’s first “Herks” were four C-130Bs acquired in 1960. These were operated by 435 Squadron in Edmonton) where, to begin, they worked alongside their famous predecessor, the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar. Four years later came the RCAF’s first C-130Es. Soon the C-119s were out to pasture and the “B”s were traded back to Lockheed.

The C-130E now was the RCAF’s premier medium-lift transport and remains so for the CanForces after 45 years. Operating units have included 413 Squadron (Greenwood), 424 (Trenton), 426 (Trenton), 429 (Trenton), 435 (Edmonton, Winnipeg) and 436 (Ottawa, Trenton).

Canada’s C-130s have served on military and humanitarian duties all over the world. In recent years they have supported the troops from Mogadishu to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan; and aided on peacekeeping and relief projects from Cypress to Sinai, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Honduras and Haiti.

Some of Canada’s 1965 C-130Es are still giving solid service, but they’re long overdue for replacement. After years of planning and negotiating, replacements are finally coming down the line — 17 new C-130Js will soon be joining the CanForces. The first (CanForces 130601 shown in this Lockheed photo) made its initial flight on March 3, 2010 at Marietta, Georgia.

The first of the old-time C-130Es already has been designated for museum display. Some of those veterans have accumulated airframe time exceeding 40,000 hours.

Over the decades I've flown in and photographed C-130s across Canada, around the United States, from Prestwick to Lahr, in Italy, Cypress, El Arish, Djibouti, Mogadishu, Nairobi and Kigali, from Honduras and Mexico to Hall Beach and Igloolik. But taking it all away back, the first "Herk" I ever photographed was 10303 of 435 Squadron visiting Trenton from Edmonton for the Dominion Day airshow, July 1, 1961. Here the beautiful beast sits on the tarmac that magnificent day -- shot with my old truck of a Minota Autocord "two and a quarter square" twin lens reflex. The RCAF's "B"s were short-lived. One was damaged after crash-landing in a prairie wheat field. In March 1967 all four were traded back to Lockheed in exchange for Canada's first C-130Es.10303 went to the Colombian military, but on August 26, 1969 was wrecked in a crash landing at Bogota. The CanForces still are flying a few Herks from our 1965 batch of "E"s ... so those old crates are about 45 years old! Do you think there'll still be "Herks" flying in 2054 -- the 100th anniversary of first flight? Betcha yes ... Larry

The best published history of Canada’s C-130 era is found in Air Transport in Canada. If you are a fan of air transport history, you’ll want a set of ATC, one of the world’s grandest-ever aviation history publications — 1030-page, 2-volumes, 5 kg, a million words of text, thousands photos. See canavbooks.com for the details. (Also … check out Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace, Vol.3 for more in-depth C-130 coverage)

One response to “Lockheed C-130 Hercules – An Aviation Legend

  1. Michael Schneblin

    My father was the lead engineer that brought that plane from production to its maiden flight (he was on the chase plane). I was born eight months before that flight and my parents moved from Wright-Patterson nine months before that. How do I know that? I was conceived somewhere between Dayton, Ohio and Redlands, California in some motel along Rte 66! ; ) So, I have a lot of attachment to the C-130!

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