PENSACOLA, Fla. — The Blue Angels newest cargo and personnel aircraft known as “Fat Albert” has joined with her crew in the United Kingdom to conduct final flight tests prior to their homecoming flight to Florida.
The all-Marine crew for the C-130J Super Hercules are in Cambridge, England, to perform a series of flight tests. Her flight crew, including Capt. Beau Mabery, Capt. Rick Rose, and Capt. William Huckeba, will then fly Fat Albert back to the United States in mid-July.
“Over the next few weeks, team members will conduct a series of maintenance tests,” LTJG Chelsea Dietlin, Blue Angels public affairs officer said on Tuesday. “(They) include an aircraft systems operational check out and a functional check flight, prior to completing the transatlantic flight to the United States.”
Bert’s eight member crew includes SSgt. Anthony Black, GySgt. Mike Burgess, SSgt. Chris Carter, MSgt. Jason Glatfelter, and GySgt. Chris Maxheimer. They are “responsible for transporting road-crew personnel, supplies, and equipment to and from each show site throughout the season,” Dietlin added.
This Super Hercules, C-130J Bureau Number (BuNo) 170000, will become the fourth Fat Albert cargo craft over the past 50 years. Last year, the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron retired number three due to age and performance.
On Tuesday, the Blue Angels released a striking image of the newly painted Fat Albert with her pilots. The aircraft received a new, updated blue, gold, and white paint job while at the Marshall Aerospace and Defense plant last February.
Marshall has supported C-130 aircraft around the globe for five decades. During the last seven months, they have updated the aircraft’s flight control systems and given Bert a new paint job.
“You will notice a couple changes to the paint scheme,” LTJG Dietlin explained. “The flight surfaces now have yellow tips, similar to our F/A-18s, 2 stripes run down the side of the aircraft and the iconic white top has been changed to a tear drop design.”
If approved, the Blue Angels C-130J’s first air show site will be Thunder Over Michigan. The two day air show begins August 29 in Ypsilanti near Detroit.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)