The Lockheed C-130 … what can’t this plane do?

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an amazing aircraft, having remained in production for 57 years and in military service for 54 years, it seems there is no challenge the Hercules can’t handle. In fact, as the only military aircraft to ever remain in continuous production for more than 50 years, the sheer number of variants of the C-130 covers pretty much every mission you could ask of this aircraft.


It is hard to pinpoint what the C-130 is best known for, as a cargo aircraft? As an aerial gunship? As an aerial tanker? As a search and rescue aircraft? As the United States Marine Corps’ “Fat Albert” supporting The Blue Angels? Its also well known as for its role as a medi-evac aircraft and aerial firefighter … but way back in October 1963 a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130F tackled another amazing mission that seems hard to imagine.


Back in October 1963, the mighty Hercules, with its broad 137 foot 7 inch wingspan and 97 foot 9 inch length, began an experiment to utilize this aircraft as a super-sized Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft.  The idea of landing a KC-130F on the 1,076 foot long, 252 foot wide, deck of the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) seemed so far fetched that when Lt. James H. Flatley III was informed of his mission to land the Hercules on the USS Forrestal he remarked “Operate a C-130 off an aircraft carrier? Somebody’s got to be kidding.”

Lt. Flatley’s skepticism about landing a KC-130F on the deck of the USS Forrestal wasn’t misguided given that the aircraft’s wings would have just under 15 feet of clearance from the aircraft carrier’s ‘island tower.’


… so what does it look like when a massive turbo prop aircraft lands on an aircraft carrier with no hook and takes off with no catapult?   Rather than describe it, take a few minutes to watch the complete video below.  The footage and information is just incredible.


Happy Flying!



  1. Actually “Fat Albert” belongs to the US Navy not the Marines. Other than that, this is a well researched post.

  2. John,

    The Blue Angels Lockheed C-130T Hercules, known as “Fat Albert” is a United States Marine Corps aircraft. The aircraft’s flight crew is presently comprised of three USMC Captains. The USMC began using a C-130 in support of the Blue Angels in 1970 and each side of the aircraft is painted with “UNITED STATES MARINES” in the distinctive Blue Angels yellow on blue colours and simply “MARINES” painted on the underside of the right wing, beside the #1 engine.

    Additionally, there have been quite a few USMC demonstration pilots within the Blue Angels team. Currently the #3 pilot is a Major in the Marine Corps.

    Happy Flying!


  3. Paulo,

    I don’t think a C-17 could land on a carrier for many reasons, but lets start with the obvious reason. The C-17’s wing span is more than 30 longer than taht of the C-130.

    Happy Flying!


  4. I always thought that Fat Albert was the nickname for all C130s anyway. I do belive that the C130 will still flying in 2050 just a more up to date version .The RNZAF have some of the oldest in service and there going through a midlife update right now . I certianly has outlasted the Starlifter by a long way.

  5. The C-130 is an incredible aircraft. I have a Cal-Fire one that buzzes my house about 4 times a week, and was lucky enough to get to see one of Fat Albert’s last jet-assisted take-offs (aka JATO). That was enough to make me a fan.

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