Naval Air: July 17, 2002

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For years, sailors and naval buffs have argued over whether or not a four engine C-130 had ever landed, or taken off, from an aircraft carrier. Some say it's an Urban Myth. Actually, it did happen. A Marine Corps KC-130F made 21 landings and take-offs from the carrier Forrestal (plus 29 touch and go landings). But this happened way back in 1963 (on October 30th.) This was done to see if the C-130 could be used to move cargo and personnel to and from a carrier. The C-130 was able to do this without incident. The only modifications on the C-130 was the addition of anti-skid braking system, removal of the fuel pods from the wing and a modified nose landing gear cover. The C-130 was able to land without using the arrester gear, and take off without using the catapult. But these flight operations were not for the faint of heart, and the C-130 pilot (Lieutenant James H Flatley III) was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. The tests determined that a C-130 could bring about 12 tons of cargo on or off a carrier 4,000 kilometers from a land base. But carrier landings are inherently risky, and the C-130 was too large to get below into the hanger deck if it needed repairs. The C-130 was the largest aircraft to ever land on a carrier, and the heaviest (60 tons). However, given the current eagerness of the navy to use its carriers as floating bases for U.S. commandos, we may yet see C-130s again operating from carriers. A C-130 can carry paratroopers (commandos) or air dropped supplies a long distances, and when time is critical (and you don't want to wait for C-130s to fly in from farther away using air-to-air refueling), a C-130 on the flight deck might be a lifesaver.

 


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