NAS PENSACOLA, Fla. — The workhorse of the Blue Angels is returning to the squadron on Friday following nine months of intensive upgrades and repairs to the hulking C-130 Hercules aircraft.
An airshow favorite across America, the C-130T transport known as Fat Albert has not attended an airshow since last July following the Blue Angels maintence team’s decision to begin a complete overhaul on the aging aircraft. Bert’s maintenance at Hill Air Force Base in Utah has involved the removal and upgrade of it’s four turboprop engines; the removal and structual inspection of its wings; wiring inspections and repairs; and a complete paint removal followed by a new paint job.
Bert’s prime job is the transportation of key support personel and hardware from Pensacola Naval Air Station, the home of the Blue Angels, to each airshow site. Bert takes-off loaded with nealy 10,000 pounds of aircraft hardware, nearly sixty support members, and airshow logistics two days prior to an airshow.
The blue, yellow, and white Lockheed Martin-built aircraft is a crowd favorite as Bert takes to the skies to begin the Blue Angels one hour long demonstration followed by the six Navy F/A-18 Hornets. Bert’s crew puts the aircraft through several maneuvers including several low passes and a short-field assault landing during it’s 12-minute demonstration.
The squadron has used another KC-130T — nicknamed Ernie — in Bert’s place this year. Major Mark Hamilton, Major Mark Montgomery, and Major Kyle Maschner will perform the flying this season, while four crewmembers — GySgt. Beau Beville, Sgt. Anthony Black, GySgt. Jason Glatfelter, and GySgt. Stephen Stewart — make up the logistics crew.
“Good to see my old friend again,” Maj. Hamilton said on Tuesday. The entire crew departed Hill, AFB aboard Fat Albert on Tuesday, and will make two stops this week en route to their arrival at NAS Pensacola on Friday.
Fat Albert’s all-Marine crew will spend at least two weeks training aboard the C-130T prior to the aircraft’s official return. The Blue Angels have not announced an official return date for Fat Albert to an airshow site.
(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)