The US Navy Blue Angel’s dedicated airlift support aircraft, Lockheed Martin KC-130T Bureau Number (BuNo) 164763/CN 5258, or simply Fat Albert to many, performed for an airshow crowd for the first time in over a year on July 14th 2018 at the Pensacola Beach Air Show. The veteran Blue Angel aircraft, flown by an all-Marine Corps crew, had served with the team since 2002 but was grounded along with the remaining KC-130T model Hercules transports after a Marine Corps C-103T crash in Mississippi during 2017, Fat Albert flew for the first time in over a year on June 26th. Video of the flight was uploaded to YouTube by AviationFreak#1
The Blue Angels have used C-130s as their support airlifters since 1970. Their previous C-130 Fat Albert was TC-130G BuNo 151891 and CN 3878, an aircraft that had been assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron FOUR (VX-4) and to the Naval AirTest Center (NATC) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in Maryland before heading to the Blues in 1991. During 1997 151891 was extensively overhauled. While the aircraft was being reworked, US Marine Corps KC-130T BuNo 163310/CN 5085, usually assigned to Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron TWO THREE FOUR (VMGR-234) Rangers, was utilized by the Blues as a support airlifter. This “gray” KC-130T was nicknamed Ernie by the Blues maintainers.
Because the Blue Angles’ Fat Albert flight crew have not been able to train or rehearse a full show performance in over a year, the fan favorite only performed a couple of flat passes for the delighted Pensacola Beach crowd the first time back- but Fat Albert still stole the show. Reporting indicates that a surplus Royal Air Force (RAF) C-130J C5 (short fuselage) Hercules is in line to be the next Fat Albert. A C-130J would be a major performance envelope and maintenance workload upgrade over the decrepit KC-130T. Those KC-130Ts still in service are some of the most elderly Hercules variants out there.
BONUS: The entire Blue Angels performance at Pensacola Beach 2018 was uploaded to YouTube by AviationFreak#1