Tuesday, August 26, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Still hauling after 60 years

The mighty C-130 Hercules reached a milestone Saturday, marking the 60th anniversary of its first flight at Burbank, Calif., on Aug. 23, 1954.

What a workhorse it’s been all these years. Starting out a cargo plane during the Cold War, the C-130 continues to deliver military personnel and cargo around the world, along with humanitarian aid to victims of war and natural disasters.

As if to coincide with the 60th anniversary, the 61st Airlift Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base last Thursday received another C-130J Super Hercules airlifter. Brig. Gen. Brian Robinson, former commander of the 19th Airlift Wing here, now vice commander of the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) at Scott AFB, Ill., flew the aircraft from the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Ga. The 61st, which has operated C-130s since 1956, is part of Air Mobility Command’s 19th Airlift Wing.

According to Lockheed Martin, more than 2,500 C-130s have been ordered or delivered to 63 nations. It has the longest, continuous military aircraft production run in history.

There are approximately 80 C-130H/J models on the flightline at LRAFB, making the base home to more than 20 percent of the total Air Force C-130 fleet. The Herk is a workhorse for combat airlift, capable of operating from rough dirt strips, and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.

The C-130 is the greatest cargo plane in military history. We feel as if we were present at the creation of the all-new C-130Js back in the 1990s, when its future was in doubt as Congress considered cutting funds for the new planes. But the Clinton Administration stuck with the C-130Js, thus ensuring the future of Little Rock Air Force Base. May they fly for at least another 60 years.