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This Day In History: The First Flight Of The Lockheed C-130 Hercules

August 23, 2016

This day in history, on August 23, 1954, the Lockheed C-130 Hercules took flight for the first time.

In 1951, the United States Air Force was seeking an aircraft that could carry large and heavy equipment over long distances as well as slow down to speeds of 125 knots so that paratroop drops could be conducted. Many of the previous aerial transports were not properly equipped for some of their missions during the Korean War.

Lockheed’s chief engineer, Hall Hibbard saw potential with the C-130 Hercules while design expert, Kelly Johnson thought that it could be a massive disaster since it was the age of speedy jets. After seeing the C-130 Hercules in action during its first flight, it was evident that the aircraft would be incredibly useful.

A C-130E from the 2nd Airlift Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C., flies over the Atlantic Ocean along the North Carolina coast. The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the intratheater portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for paradropping troops and equipment into hostile areas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Howard Blair)

The aircraft would be able to carry 40,000 pounds in cargo and reach speeds of 360 miles per hour. The aircraft also lifted into the air after a ground roll of a mere 855 feet where many required 5,000 feet.

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now called Lockheed Martin.

From Wikipedia:

“Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship (AC-130), for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling, maritime patrol, and aerial firefighting. It is now the main tactical airlifter for many military forces worldwide. Over 40 models and variants of the Hercules serve with more than 60 nations. The C-130 entered service with U.S., followed by Australia and others. During its years of service, the Hercules family has participated in numerous military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations. The family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. In 2007, the C-130 became the fifth aircraft to mark 50 years of continuous use with its original primary customer, in this instance, the United States Air Force.”