Amidst the chaotic withdrawal of American forces from Saigon in April 1975, a young man in the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF), Tinh Nguyen, peered out from a bunker at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. The airfield had been under North Vietnamese mortar fire all night and more than 100 aircraft had been destroyed. But there was still one flyable C-130A (the initial production version). During a lull in the firing, it taxied toward the runway navigating around the smoking debris.
This massive plane’s rear ramp was still open with a crowd of people huddling on it, and Nguyen knew he had to get to it.
immense the chaotic withdrawal of American forces from Saigon in April 1975 a young man in the South Vietnamese Air Force VNAF 10 new yen peered out from the bunker up Tan Son Nhut Air Base the airfield had been under North Vietnamese mortar fire all night and more than 100 aircraft had been destroyed but there was still one flyable c-130 a the initial production version during a lull in the firing a taxi toward the runway navigating around the smoking debris this massive planes rear ramp was still open with a crowd of people huddling on it and knew you knew he had to get to it it was either leave right then or stay and get killed with others he made a desperate dash from the bunker toward an alluring c-130 every time the pilot jammed on the brake it pushed the passengers forward nuyen told Fox News in 2014 it created more space in the back so I jumped in everybody jumped in and a few minutes after that the ramp door closed designed to carry only 90 paratroopers the hercules belly was bursting with far more people than that its lone pilot a VNAF major pushed its 4 allison t56 turboprops to full throttle and began as take off down the 10,000 foot runway at the opposite end of the runway the airplane still hadn't taken wing but in the runways 1,000 foot overrun the c-130 staggered into the air after a harrowing flight it touched down three and a half hours later up to 2 power Royal Thai a B southeast of Bangkok on the ramp American personnel were visibly surprised as they watched 452 people disembark with Herculean effort the c-130 had lifted more than 20,000 pounds above its operational limit the c-130 has been a lifesaver during its six-decade history it's been the Death Bringer 2 with a squat stance bulbous nose four big turboprop engines and massive fuselage the c-130 cruises at a relatively modest 292 three hundred twenty knots lockheed dubbed its turkey weighs after the mythological hero known for his strength and courage the name fits the company's tradition of naming aircraft after celestial constellations along with the p2v Neptune and p3 Orion compared to high-profile jet fighters like the f-22 Raptor or f-35 lightning to the Hercules looks like a bloated throwback but what it lacks in sleekness it more than makes up for in heart like the a-10 warthog it's the Hercules awesome capability that makes it a total badass simply put the c-130 is a do-anything aircraft and its service record shows it Lockheed says the c-130 has flown at least 100 different missions in its 63 year old life including its most recent return to the military limelight on April 13th and make 130 dropped the largest conventional bomb ever used in combat the GB 43 /b massive ordnance air blast MOA B or mother of all bombs on an Islamic state tunnel complex in Afghanistan's non gearheart province the MIG 130s crew released it from the rear cargo ramp using a drag chute a procedure that dates back to before the Korean War indeed that conflict is where the c-130 was born during that war the Air Force recognized that no airplane capable of air lifting combat troops over medium distances too short austere airfields in 1951 Boeing Douglas and Fairchild presented alternative proposals but ultimately the Yousaf chose Lockheed's design Willis Hawkins who would go on to design the corona satellite Polaris missile and m1 Abrams tank created the winning design and described the c-130 in a mere 110 page document compared to Lockheed's 2500 page f-35 proposal the c-130 ride up is a breezy read according to Lockheed Martin historian Jeff Rhodes Hawkins design team took the m551 sheridan tank the largest piece of equipment the army needed to airlift and through a circle around it end that set the diameter of the fuselage as for the fuselage is 40-foot length its inspiration came from somewhere else entirely the basic c-130 aft of the cockpit and before the ramp is the length of the railroad boxcar Road says the why c-130 made its first flight on August 23rd 1954 at Lockheed's Burbank California plant with four allison t56 alot turboprop engines delivering three thousand seven hundred fifty horsepower each and driving three bladed Curtiss ride Electric reversible propellers the Wai c-130 took off in only eight hundred feet the Pentagon had found its plane production of the c-130 a began at Lockheed's plan in Marietta Georgia soon thereafter and the Herc has been rolling off the assembly line ever since the Hercules has the longest continuous military aircraft production run in history and one of the top three longest continuous aircraft production lines of any type a remarkable 70 countries operate c-130s which have been produced in more than 70 different variants the c-130 is whatever is needed Rhodes observes it's an ambulance it's a gunship it drops paratroopers it carries cargo it's a TV broadcast system its launch drones and caught satellites you name it the Hercules has done it at some point in its career the Herc has served with the US Air Force Navy Marines Coast Guard NASA and foreign militaries and commercial operators as the l/100 all over the world it's been an aerial refuelers forward our controller hurricane hunter fire tanker and Arctic resupply aircraft search-and-rescue platform and on and on and on c-130s went into hardens way almost immediately with its first deployment to Europe in 1956 in the first combat loss came in 1958 when a c-130 a 2 was shot down over Armenia during a reconnaissance mission while gaining notoriety for its performance ashore the hercules simultaneously made history is the largest heaviest aircraft ever to land on and launched from an aircraft carrier a distinction it earned in october 1963 as part of a test to assess its feasibility as a carry onboard delivery aircraft a year later the c-130 a began sorties for the US Air Force in Vietnam they hauled cargo dropped leaflets and delivered weapons on the Ho Chi Minh Trail foreshadowing president Trump's recent Afghanistan mission c-130 bees also dropped a pair of 10,000 pound bombs in Vietnam in October 1968 as a means of clearing landing zones for helicopters but the c-130 was more than a military route it was was one of three legendary lockheed airplanes operated by the CIA in the 1960s joining the u2 and a12 sr-71 as an intelligence gathering tool in 1969 a CIA operated c-130 he made a clandestine drop of sense or pallets near China's lautner nuclear weapons test base to get information on Chinese nuclear capabilities c-130b to electronic reconnaissance aircraft operated in Europe and Japan and later c-130e models took on standoff jamming roles in the 1970s in one of their more surprising roles special ec-130e commando solo Herc's transmitted radio and TV broadcasts several hours a night over Iraq as part of psychological warfare campaigns as prelude to the 1991 Persian Gulf War in 2003 in rock war today's ac-130 eh eww spooky specters stinger gunship is renowned for its ability to protect Special Operations troops on the ground from Vietnam all the way up to the recent Afghanistan war with lethal 20-millimeter slash 30 millimeter slash 40 millimeter cannon and even 105 millimeter howitzer as well as additional smart bombs and missiles in fact one single ac-130 helped stop a southbound Iraqi armored column during the Battle of coffee in 1991 but the Herc was also central to rescue missions whether dramatic hostage situations like the successful 1976 Israeli raid on Entebbe or the failed 1980 Iranian hostage mission and has saved countless lives on land and at sea with the Coast Guard breaking more records the c-130 is also the first fixed-wing aircraft to land at the site of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina haiti's earthquake Fukushima and the recent Peruvian floods