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"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"


"One Brick Short of A Runway"

"Hercules In The Landing Pit"

On The Scene In Northern Iraq

Feature Date: January, 2005

Event Date: 29 December 2004

Countryman & McDaniel

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"Overlooking Runway 25 - Right, at Los Angeles International Airport"

On The Scene -- With U.S. Forces In Iraq!

 A 2005 Countryman & McDaniel

Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

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"One Brick Short of A Runway"

"Hercules In The Landing Pit"

On The Scene In Northern Iraq

A C130 Tactical Supply Aircraft



29 Decmeber 2004

A Cargo Nightmare Prize Contender

The Time: Late Night

The Date: Wednesday 29 December 2004

The Place: U.S. Air Force Base, Northern Iraq

U.S. Air Force C-130 "Hercules" Tactical Supply Aircraft -- And So Much More

A Current World Leader -- THE Legend

The World Standard of Heavy Lift For Nations of The World

Since 1954 -- Still In Production

The C-130 Hercules

First Flight - Aug. 1954

History of Building: Currently being built in 2005 for nations around the world.

Type: - tactical cargo lift & Combat Hadow & tanker configurations.

Power Plant: 4 Allison AE 21 00D3 turboprops: each 4,591 skip.

Accommodation: crew of 2, with provision for 3rd person, plus the loadmaster; and

Up to 92 equipped troops; or

64 paratroops; or

74 litter patients plus attendants; or

54 passengers on palletized seating; or

Up to five 463L standard freight pallets, etc.

The C-130 Hercules

Span: 132 ft 7 in,

Length: 97 ft 9 in,

Height: 36ft10in.

Weights: empty 75,562 lb,

Max Payload: 41,790 lb, gross 175,000 lb.


Max Cruising Speed: 400 mph,

Ceiling : (at 147,000 lb) 30,560 ft.

T-O Run: 1,800-3,290 ft.

Landing Run: (at 130,000 lb) 1,400 ft.

Range with 40,000-lb payload 3,262 miles.


The Mighty Hercules

Most readers of this feature were not yet alive when the 1st C-130 lifted off in her test trials in 1954. While it was a different -- non Internet - non digital world in 1954 -- all the increddible technical 21 Century challenges since then have been easily overcome by the true "Hercules" -- the world's #1 cargo carrier -- the C-130 "Hercules". In the past 50 years, this aircraft has saved more lives than any plane in world history. Wherever there is a world disaster, there is a flock of C-130s.

Still in production, the Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft t flew Aug. 23, 1954, the first of two YC-130A test aircraft. The airframe was #53-3397. It was flown from Burbank, California, to Edwards Air Force Base by Stanley Beltz (pilot) and Roy Wimmer (co-pilot). Only the two YC-130 prototypes (#53-3396 was the first built) were assembled at Lockheed's "Skunk Works" plant in Burbank, while more than 2,000 subsequent aircraft have been built in Marietta, Georgia.

The initial production model was the C-130A, with four three-bladed Allison T56-A-9 turboprops. A total of 219 were ordered. The first production C-130A (#53-3129*) flew on 7 April 1955 and deliveries began in December 1956. Two DC-130As (originally GC-130As) were built as drone launchers/directors, carrying up to four drones on underwing pylons. All special equipment was removable, permitting the aircraft to be used as freighters (accommodating five standard freight pallets), assault transports, or ambulances.

Five decades have elapsed since the Air Force issued its original design specification, yet the remarkable C-130 Hercules remains in production. The venerable "Herk" is the most successful military transport since the Douglas C-47 and has accumulated over 20 million flight hours. More than 900 C-130s and derivatives have been delivered to the U.S. Air Force during the past 50 years. The aircraft type currently serves in over 60 foreign countries and is expected to remain in production well into the 21st century.

Active duty began in 1959.

The C-130B entered service in June 1959. A total of 134 were delivered to the Air Force. The B-model introduced the four-bladed Allison T56-A-7 turboprops, carries additional fuel in the wings, and has strengthened landing gear. A few C-130Bs, used for aerial fire fighting missions, are still in service with Air National Guard units. Six C-130Bs were modified in 1961 for mid-air snatch recovery of classified Air Force satellites.

During the Vietnam Conflict, some Air Force C-130As were converted into gunships. In addition to their side-firing 20mm Vulcan cannons and 7.62mm Miniguns, they also possessed sensors, a target acquisition system, and a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) and low-light television system.

Several A-models, redesignated C-130D, were fitted with wheel/ski landing gear for service in the Arctic and for resupply missions to units along the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line. The two main skis are 20 feet (6m) long, 6 feet (1.8m) wide, and weigh about 2,000 pounds (907kg) each. The nose ski is 10 feet (3m) long and 6 feet (1.8m) wide. The D-model also has increased fuel capacity and provision for jet-assisted takeoff (JATO). These were flown by the Air National Guard and have been replaced by the LC-130H variant.

The C-130E is an extended-range development of the C-130B. A total of 369 were ordered and deliveries began in April 1962. The maximum ramp weight of the E-model increased to 155,000 pounds (70,307kg), 20,000 pounds (9,072kg) more than the B-model. Its fuel capacity was increased by over 17,000 pounds (7,711kg). More powerful Allison T-56-A-7A engines were used and a pair of external fuel tanks with a capacity of 1,360 gallons were slung beneath the wings, between the engines. A recent wing modification to correct fatigue and corrosion on the USAF's fleet of E-models has extended the life of the aircraft well into the 21st century.

Similar to the E-model, the C-130H has updated T56-A-T5 turboprops, a redesigned outer wing, updated avionics, and other minor improvements. Delivery began in July 1974 [other sources state April 1975]. More than 350 C-130Hs and derivatives were ordered for active and reserve units of the U.S. services. The H-model has become the most produced of all C-130 models, with orders for 565 as of the end of 1979.

U.S. Navy & Marines: The C-130 Hercules first entered naval service in 1960 when four LC-130F's were obtained for Antarctic support missions. These ski-equipped "Herks" were soon followed by 46 KC-130F models procured by the Marine Corps in 1962 for the dual role of assault transport and aerial tanker for fighter and attack aircraft. That same year the Navy obtained seven C-130F's without inflight refueling equipment to serve its transport requirements. The KC-130F made its first test flight in January 1960 as the GV-1 under the old Navy designation system. The tanker version can refuel two aircraft simultaneously from the 3,600 gallons in its cargo compartment. The fuel is routed to two detachable pylon pods located below the outer wing, containing refueling gear.

In 1965, the Navy procured a number of C-130Gs to provide support to Polaris submarines and the exchange of their crews. Essentially the same as the F-model, these aircraft have increased structural strength, allowing higher gross weight operation. All models feature crew and cargo compartment pressurization, single-point refueling and a Doppler navigation system. The four of these aircraft were later modified as TACAMO communications relay aircraft and were redesignated EC-130G. After replacement by the E-6A, three aircraft were returned to transport configuration (albeit with no cargo ramp) as TC-130Gs, one now serving as the Blue Angels support aircraft, Fat Albert.

One other model, the EC-130Q, served in two VQ squadrons. This version had a permanently installed VLF radio transmitter system used to supplement shorebased communications facilities and acted as a strategic communications aircraft, communicating with ballistic-missile submarines.

Statistics: More than 145 Hercules aircraft were deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. These aircraft moved units to forward bases once they arrived in the theatre. From 10 August 1990 to the cease-fire, Air Force C-130s flew 46,500 sorties and moved more than 209,000 people and 300,000 tons of supplies within the Area of Responsibility (AOR). They provided logistical support, aeromedical evacuation of the wounded, and battlefield mobility once the fighting started. During the "100-hour" ground campaign, C-130s flew more than 500 sorties a day!

Features: The C-130 design employs a cargo floor at truck-bed height above the ground, an integral "roll on/roll off" rear loading ramp, and an unobstructed, fully-pressurized cargo hold which can rapidly be reconfigured for the carriage of troops, stretchers or passengers. The Hercules can also be committed for airdrops of troops or equipment and for LAPES (Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System) delivery of heavy cargoes.

*Cargo Compartment - The C-130 can carry more than 42,000 pounds (19,051kg) of cargo. Rollers in the floor of the cargo compartment enable quick and easy handling of cargo pallets and can be removed to leave a flat surface, if needed. Five 463L pallets (plus a ramp pallet for baggage) may be loaded onto the aircraft through the hydraulically-operated main loading ramp/door assembly located in the rear of the aircraft. The ramp can also be lowered to the ground for loading and unloading of wheeled vehicles. Tie-down fittings for securing cargo are located throughout the compartment. In its personnel carrier role, the C-130 can accommodate 92 combat troops or 64 fully-equipped paratroopers on side-facing, webbed seats. For aeromedical evacuations, it can carry 74 litter patients and two medical attendants.

*Aerial Delivery of Cargo - Three primary methods of aerial delivery are used for equipment or supplies. In the first, parachutes pull the load, weighing up to 42,000 pounds (19,051kg), from the aircraft. When the load is clear of the plane, cargo parachutes deploy and lower the load to the ground. The second method, called the Container Delivery System (CDS), uses the force of gravity to pull from one to 16 bundles of supplies from the aircraft. When the bundles, weighing up to 2,200 pounds (998kg) each, are out of the aircraft, parachutes deploy and lower them to the ground. LAPES is the third aerial delivery method. With LAPES, up to 38,000 pounds (17,237kg) of cargo is pulled from the aircraft by large cargo parachutes while the aircraft is five to 10 feet (3m) above the ground. The load then slides to a stop within a very short distance.

*Wings and Fuel Tanks - The full cantilever wing contains four integral main fuel tanks and two bladder-type auxiliary tanks. Two external tanks are mounted under the wings. This gives the C-130 a total usable fuel capacity of approximately 9,530 gallons.

*Landing Gear - The modified tricycle-type landing gear consists of dual nose gear wheels and tandem mains and permits aircraft operation from rough, unimproved runways. Main gear retraction is vertically, into fuselage blister fairings, and the nose gear folds forward into the fuselage. Power steering is incorporated into the nose gear.

*Electrical Systems - AC electrical power for the C-130H model is provided by five 40 KVA generators, 4 driven by the engines and one driven by the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). On the E-model, the power is supplied by four 40 KVA engine-driven generators, and a 20 KVA generator driven by the Air Turbine Motor (ATM). DC power is provided from AC sources through four 200 ampere transformer rectifiers and one 24 volt, 36 ampere-hour battery.

*Hydraulic Systems - Four engine-driven pumps supply 3,000 psi pressure to the utility and booster systems. An electric AC motor-driven pump supplies pressure to the auxiliary system and is backed up by a hand pump. The hydraulic system maintains constant pressure during zero or negative "g" maneuvers.

Stretched Herks: A number of military operators use the civilian version of the Hercules, which bears the Lockheed designation L-100. Certificated in February 1965, the basic L-100 was broadly equivalent to the C-130E, without pylon tanks or military equipment. The L-100-20 was given plugs fore (5 feet/1.5m) and aft (3.3 feet/1m) of the wing. The L-100-30 has a full 15-foot (4.6m) fuselage stretch.

Roles and Variants: The C-130 Hercules is arguably the most versatile tactical transport aircraft ever built. Its uses appear almost limitless: airlift and airdrop, electronic surveillance, search and rescue, space-capsule recovery, helicopter refueling, landing (with skis) on snow and ice, and aerial attack. It has even landed and taken off from a carrier deck without benefit of arresting gear or catapults.

Twenty-four MC-130H (Combat Talon II) aircraft have been acquired to supplement the Talon I. Equipment includes an in-flight refueling receptacle;explosion suppressant fuel tanks: modified cargo ramp area for high-speed aerial delivery; AN/APO-1 70 precision turning, terrain-following, and terrain-avoidance radar dual radar altimeters; dual INS; integrated GPS receiver flight stabilized Infrared Detection Set; extensive communications suite; fully integrated glass cockpit; and improved infrared & electronic defensive countermeasures. The 1st, 7th, and 15th SOSs employ the Combat Talon II, supporting unconventional warfare units from their bases in Japan, Europe, and CONUS, respectively. The 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland AFB, N. M., is responsible for MC-130H mission qualification training.

MC/HC-130 Combat Shadow/Tankers: Twenty-eight active-duty MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft (formerly HC-130N/P) are dedicated to special missions. Nine are assigned to the SOS, Eglin AFB, Fla. Five each are assigned to 17th SOS, Kadena AB, Japan, and to the 67th; RAF Mildenhall, UK. The 5th SOS (AFRC), based at Duke Field, Fla., and the 58th SOW at Kirkland AFB, N. M., have 5 & 4 aircraft, respectively, the latter for training. All are modified with secure communications, self-contained inertial navigation, and countermeasures systems, and NVG compatible lighting. The aircraft's primary mission is to conduct single-ship or formation in-flight refueling of special operations forces helicopters in a low-threat to selected medium-threat environment. These missions involve NVG low-level flights using minimal lighting and communications-out procedures. These SOF MC-130Ps are being further modified with advanced integrated navigation equipment, including digital scan radar, ring-laser gyro INS, FLIR, GPS, and dual nav stations. They are also receiving new missile warning systems and countermeasures for refueling missions in hostile environments. Fifteen have been fitted with an in-flight refueling receptacle to extend their range indefinitely.

Nine additional Search & Rescue HC-130 tanker aircraft are located with an active-duty unit at Patrick AFB, Fla.; 20 others are assigned to various AFRC & ANG units. (Data similar to those for C-130.)

Today: Hundrdreds of C-130 aircraft from many nations bring their "Hurcules" lift for disaster relief supplies to the victims -- such as those of the Dec. 26 2004 Tsnami.

 The C-130 is one hell of an airplane. In times of need -- IT -- for the past 50 years -- is THE airplane. McD

* This aircraft lost its left wing to fire during its third flight. It was repaired and the aircraft was later converted into an AC-130A gunship which was retired from service on 10 Sept 1995.

PROLOG TO DISASTER - On Thurs. Dec. 30 2004, The U.S. Central Command, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida broacast the following story --
December 30, 2004

Release Number: 04-12-64


Baghdad, Iraq -- A U.S. military C-130 suffered a mishap on landing at an airbase in northern Iraq at 11:50 p.m. on Dec. 29. The aircraft was conducting a regularly scheduled mission when the incident occurred.

There were 11 crew members and passengers on board and all have been accounted for.

While the cause of this incident is still under investigation, there is no evidence to suggest the incident was caused by hostile fire. There is no further information at this time.

A board of qualified officers will investigate the incident.

HQ U.S. Central Command

MacDill AFB Fla.


In the Darkness, Dec. 29 2004 --

-- The Combat Crew of This MC-130H Talon-2 Special Operations Plane --

-- Had Shared The Basic Instinct of All Airmen --

-- That An Actual Runway Would Be There For Landing At A U.S. Base -- It was Not.

Hercules Escaped The Pit - But Just Barely

Crash of a MC-130H Talon-2 Special Operations plane in Iraq...this was not a "hard landing" as described by the media, but a gross error on the part of the airfield manager and construction crews. The runway was "One Brick Short."

"The Missing Brick"

During the week of Dec. 20, U.S. C-23 Sherpa aircraft flew into this U..S operated airfield in Iraq during the day and saw there was construction equipment on the runway.  Yet there was no NOTAM (Notice To Airmen) posted warn to planes to follow.  A trench was being dug in the runway, and it was not marked.  Its a long runway and the C-23 Sherpas landed just beyond the construction.  The C-23 crews filed a safety hazard report that was immediately forwarded to higher headquarters and to the Air Force wing based here. How?

Well, it seems the construction continued and still was not marked or noated as a NOTAM -- or anything. 

Hercules After The Pit

On the night of Dec.29 -- this MC-130H Talon-2 Special Operations plane didn't see the construction.  It wound up going through what is now a large pit on the runway.  
Unbelievably -- there were no deaths -- just several injuries & life time counseling needs for the passengers. Not a great 50th Anniversary for the C-130

While this was quite the set of communication failures somewhere in the systems --

-- Lesser planes than the mighty C130 Hercules would not have been so forgiving. Thanks Lockheed! Don't try this at home.


 Correction Fron Our Reader -- April 2006
The top photo in your feature "One Brick Short of a Runway" is not an Air Force C-130. It is in fact a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130T of VMGR-234 based at Dallas, Texas. I flew many hours in 308 and have a particular bond with this particular Herk. She is a a relatively newer model built in the 1980's and delivered to VMGR-234 while we were still based at NAS Glenview in suburban Chicago.

"The Air Force calls their C-130's "Hercules'". In the Marine Corps we lovingly call our KC-130's "BattleHerks". It is not just a difference in names, it is the difference of the mindset of the men and women who meticulously care for them and the aircrews who push them to the incredible limits of their design in the execution of their missions." - A USMC Flight Engineer explaining the difference between USAF and USMC Lockheed C-130 variants.


Re-Correction Fron Our Reader -- June 2007 -- Questionable 'correction'

Regarding the above statements, stating that it was a Marine KC-130, instead of a USAF MC-130, I remanin unconvinced, in that the numbers under the cockpit windows - the tail number of the aircraft - is not 308, as stated, but is instead 0012. The radome is also the "canoe" which is a characteristic of MCs. I do not know of any other varsion of C-130 which has this type of nose - and the one picture I was able to find of KC-130T 308 does not have this type of radome....
Just my two cents -- from Anonymous Journalist

Re-Re-Correction Fron Our Reader -- August 2007 -- Questionable 're-correction'

In regards to the anonymous correction, the gentleman that left that correction did not correctly read the correction he was correcting. The "top photo" to which Tom was referring is the one, the first one, at the top of the article. That Herc is correctly identified as a Marine KC-130, and the remaining photographs correctly identify the aircraft about which this article is written. Which is a USAF MC-130, tail number 0012.
David - Loadmaster, USMC

Ed Note: Thanks for your contributions -- which have now been posted to the feature. You studied the situation well and raise some interesting facts which we may have missed. Perhaps there are further answers. All these discussions between warriors are important to document the record of those who risk so very much on our behalf.


The Dedication of This Feature Is Simple: To the 50th anniversary of the Hercules C-130

SPECIAL NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by air & sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs brokerIt's dangerous out there.


C-23 Sherpa

Lockheed Aviation

Lockheed C-130

C-130 Headquarters

C-1 Gallery

C-130 Gunship

C-130 Predator

C-130A Spectre

C-130 History & photos

MC-130 E/H Combat Talon II

RAF C-130Q Hercules

RAF Hercules

Royal Australian Navy C-30

FAA Notice To Airmen (NOTAMs)

Take A Break - Our LAX Videdo - Home Theme! - this is where your Cargo Letter staff lives!

Thanks To Our Contributors For The "One Brick Short of A Runway" Feature:

The Doc - a huge supporter of our effort & your interest

Dean Ekman

Scott Madry

Eric L. Richardson

John C. Watson

* Anonymous contributor(s) who wish to be anonymous

NOTE: Please Provide Us With Your Additional Information For This Loss.

EDITOR'S NOTE FOR SURVEYORS, ATTORNEYS & MARINE ADJUSTERS: The Internet edition effort of The Cargo Letter now celebrates it's 11th Year of Service -- making us quite senior in this segment of the industry. We once estimated container underway losses at about 1,500 per year. Lloyd's put that figure at about 10,000 earlier this year. Quite obviously, the reporting mechanism for these massive losses is not supported by the lines. News of these events is not posted to the maritime community. Our new project is to call upon you -- those handling the claims -- to let us know of each container loss at sea-- in confidentiality. Many of you survey on behalf of cargo interests with no need for confidentiality. Others work for the lines & need to be protected. As a respected Int'l publication, The Cargo Letter enjoys full press privileges & cannot be forced to disclose our sources of information. No successful attempt has ever been made. If a personal notation for your report is desired -- each contributor will be given a "hot link" to your company Website in each & every report. Please take moment & report your "overside" containers to us. If you do not wish attribution, your entry will be "anonymous." This will will benefit our industry -- for obvious reasons! McD

* NOTE: The Cargo Letter wants you to know that by keeping the identity of our contributors 100% Confidential, you are able to view our continuing series of "Cargo Disasters." Our friends send us materials which benefit the industry. The materials are provided to our news publication with complete and enforceable confidentiality for the sender. In turn, we provide these materials to you.  

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