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Towed into history

C-130E Hercules moved to airpark

A partially disassembled C-130E Hercules, serial number 62-1789, was carefully moved June 13 from Hangar 301 to the Heritage Hill Airpark where it will be reassembled and put on display. Photo credit: JM Simpson

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As the partially disassembled C-130E Hercules was towed slowly down a row of parked C-17s, Ernest White watched with a look of pride.

"This is just wonderful to watch because it only happens every once and a while," said the public relations representative for the McChord Air Museum Foundation.

Sunday, June 13 airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing, 446th Airlift Wing and museum volunteers worked to slowly move the aircraft to its final destination at Heritage Hill Airpark.

The aircraft flew for 47 years and accumulated 27,329.1 hours of flight time.

Aircraft maintainers had removed both outboard engines and part of the wings to navigate the various gates, road signs, trees and lamp posts along the route. Once at the airpark, the Hercules will be placed and then reassembled.

"This has been a long time in coming," commented Ray Jordan, the museum's administrator. "A big piece of McChord's heritage is passing by us."

He also stated that over the past five years volunteers from the museum had donated over 40,000 hours to restore the aircraft to its original state.

"The dedicated individuals who worked on this project range from retired pilots and engineers to teachers, mechanics and carpenters," added volunteer Bill Mantzke.

"When people come to visit the park, they will see a beautifully restored C-130E Hercules that shows some of the history of not only the plane but of McChord."

From 1975 until 1987, C-130s were assigned to the 36th Tactical Airlift Squadron at then McChord Air Force Base.

Built by Lockheed, theC-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. Capable of taking off from and landing on dirt strips, the C-130 was originally designed as troop, medical evacuation and cargo transports.

The versatile airframe has also been used as a gunship and for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling, maritime patrolling and aerial firefighting.

More than 40 variants of the Hercules, including civilian versions marketed as the Lockheed L-100, operate in more than 60 nations.

The C-130 entered service in 1956 and soon became flown worldwide. During its years of service, the Hercules has participated in numerous military, civilian and humanitarian aid operations.

In 2007, the C-130 became the fifth aircraft to mark 50 years of continuous service with its original primary customer, which is the United States Air Force. It is also the longest continuously produced military aircraft at over 60 years.

But for volunteers like White, who researched the paint scheme and decals to match what this C-130E Hercules looked like when it first flew, the move represented the end of a process.

"We had such great collaboration with the 62nd Airlift Wing, the 446th Airlift Wing and the volunteers," he concluded. 

"I am proud to say this project was flawless from beginning to end."

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