Extract from Air Force News, 17 February 2022 ~ Eamon Hamilton
The Air Force surpassed 850,000 flying hours with the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft on January 21, 2022. The milestone was achieved by a 37SQN crew flying a C-130J Hercules from RAAF Base Richmond to Amberley.
A commemorative medallion was designed and produced by the No. 37 Squadron (RAAF) Association to celebrate the event. It can be purchased via the on-line shop link on the menu above.
Since 1958, generations of Air Force aviators flying four different variants of the Hercules have provided airlift support to Defence. CO 37SQN WGCDR Anthony Kay said the 850,000-hour milestone was passed during a mission for Operation Tonga Assist 22. “It comes as no surprise that this milestone should occur during a mission to provide important assistance to our Pacific family,” WGCDR Kay said.
A C-130J Hercules aircraft, bound for Tonga, loaded with humanitarian assistance and relief supplies departs RAAF Base Amberley. “Generations of our Hercules workforce have carried urgent relief supplies over long distances to remote airfields, often at short notice, and for long periods away from their family.
“The impressive scope of what we’ve achieved within those 850,000 hours is a testament to the service of thousands of people who have crewed RAAF Hercules and kept them flying.”
The aircraft that flew the 850,000th hour – serial A97-467 – was one of 12 C-130J Hercules that has operated from RAAF Base Richmond since 1999.
The current fleet was preceded by 12 C-130As from 1958 to 1978; 12 C-130Es from 1966 to 2000; and 12 C-130Hs from 1978 to 2012.
A Lockheed C-130A Hercules A97-206 showing the original configuration, prior to the side cargo door being permanently sealed due to failure during flight which caused the deaths of USAF personnel seated in side door seating area.
Throughout those 850,000 hours – the equivalent of more than 97 years airborne – aviators have flown Hercules missions to every continent, including Antarctica. “It’s probably not really possible to properly determine the distance our crews have travelled since 1958, or the amount of cargo they have carried in that time,” WGCDR Kay said.
“The number of passengers carried runs into the millions, and includes Defence personnel on operations, civilian communities, heads of government, celebrities, and even animals requiring urgent air transport.
“A considerable number of Australians, whether they are Defence or civilian, have either flown on a RAAF Hercules, or been the recipient of aid delivered by one of our aircraft.”
The passenger experience of flying inside a Hercules has remained largely consistent since 1958, but in recent years the fleet has been upgraded to deliver greater connectivity. This improves the airlift support available to Defence and has modernised opportunities for those on board. “Crew and passengers flying on future Hercules missions can conduct mission planning and remain globally connected throughout their flight, wherever they may be deployed,” WGCDR Kay said.
“These upgrades will inform not only how we operate the Hercules, but how we may also upgrade and develop other air mobility platforms into the future.”
- C-130A (1958 to 1978) – 148,063.6 hours.
- C-130E (1966 to 2000) – 307,007.9 hours.
- C-130H (1978 to 2012) – 244,618.4 hours.
C-130J (1999 to Present) – 150,310.1 hours*.
*As of January 21, 2022.
*As of January 21, 2022.