View Full Version : A famous C130A Hercules

18th Dec 2014, 13:09
I found this in a Royal Australian Air Force Radio Technician magazine.
It beggars description to have so many people in Hercules. What a story.

This C-130A Hercules was the 126th built by Lockheed Aircraft corp. of Marietta, Georgia. It was accepted into the US Air Force inventory on 23 August 1957. (4 blade props?? - tb)

On 2 November 1972, it was given to the South Vietnamese Air Force as part of the Military Assistance Program. A few years later, the aircraft would be involved in an historic flight.

On 29 April 1975, this Herk was the last out of Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. With over 100 aircraft destroyed on the flight line at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, some of them still burning, it was the last flyable C-130 remaining. In a very panicked state, hundreds of people were rushing to get aboard, as the aircraft represented a final ticket to freedom.

People hurriedly crowded into the Herk, packing in tighter and tighter. Eventually, the loadmaster informed the pilot, Major Phuong, a South Vietnamese instructor pilot, that he could not get the rear ramp closed due to the number of people standing on it. In a moment of inspiration, Major Phuong slowly taxied forward, then hit the brakes. The loadmaster called forward again stating he had successfully got the doors closed.

In all, 452 people were on board, including a staggering 32 in the cockpit alone. Using a conservative estimate of 100 pounds per person, it translated into an overload of at least 10,000 pounds (4,535 kg). Consequently, the overweight Hercules slowly ran down the 9,000 foot runway, finally staggering off the ground at the end of the 1,000 foot overrun. It stayed in ground effect until it gained enough speed to begin a shallow climb.

The target was Thailand, which should have been 1:20 in flight time, but after an hour and a half, the aircraft was over the Gulf of Slam, and they were clearly lost. Finally, a map was located, they identified some terrain features and they were able to navigate. They landed at Utapao, Thailand after a three and a half hour flight.

Ground personnel were shocked at what "fell out" as they opened the doors. It was clear that a longer flight would almost certainly have resulted in a loss of life. In the end, however, all 452 people made it to freedom aboard this historic C-130.

Upon landing, the aircraft was reclaimed by the United States Air Force and assigned to two different Air National Guard units for the next 14 years.

On 28 June 1989, it made its final flight to Little Rock Air Force Base and placed on permanent display.

18th Dec 2014, 13:14

I'll never complain about overcrowding on the Tube again... (yes I will).

18th Dec 2014, 14:43
[QUOTE]4 blade props?? [QUOTE]

Good story, thank you.

As for the blades, I would say as and A model it would have had the three bladed prop on original delivery in 1957, and through it's service with South Vietnam. Some A's got 4 bladed props later in life- with engine swap outs in the mid to later 1970's I believe. Likely had 3 blades on this historic flight. The other C-130's still derelict at Tan Son Nhut have 3 blades.

18th Dec 2014, 15:49
A few months back I watched a tv documentary that was principally about C130 manufacturing & production but it covered this story as well. One of Lockheed's C130 production line managers escaped on this flight and the the USAF (or ANG) flew him to Little Rock on the delivery flight of a new C130J to see this aircraft and meet a couple of other "passengers" on the flight.

18th Dec 2014, 15:51
On 28 June 1989, it made its final flight to Little Rock Air Force Base and placed on permanent display.http://www.warbirdregistry.org/c130registry/images/c130-560518-main.jpg

Four Wings
24th Dec 2014, 14:37
In July 1960 I was drafted in from my usual job as Shell sales rep in Accra Ghana to help out as a refuelling supervisor at Accra airport during the UN airlift to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) during the Congo crisis.
The main lift was by USAF Hercs carrying Moroccan troops, which staged through Accra for refuelling and ATC.
I have several stories and photos, but one is of my refuelling a Herc that arrived on the fuelling ramp with its loading ramp only half up, secured by a rope. Inside were some 40 petrified Moroccan troops on top of a great mound of equipment that spread out over the loading ramp. For ATC the Hercs flew at 8000 ft. They had just spent some hours freezing, staring out over the half open ramp at the Sahara below.