Today we present to our readers an iconic aircraft which is known by its nickname as The Fat Albert. This aircraft is actually in service of the famed aerial team known as The Blue Angels of the United States Air Force and the Fat Albert is their workhorse aircraft. Fat Albert is actually the C-130 Hercules aircraft that has been in use of The Blue Angels for the past 50 years.
Before getting started into the features of the Fat Albert, we would first like to give you a little intro of the C-130 Hercules itself. This jumbo size aircraft is powered by 4 of the turboprop engines and was designed by the original Lockheed Martin to serve the US Military. The aircraft is known for its ability to even operate on the unprepared and rugged runways and was used for mission of medical evac, cargo and troop transport. As for its other roles, the aircraft’s airframe was versatile enough to allow it to transition for a simply cargo aircraft into a Gunship which was designated as AC-130 Hercules. The transition was not limited to only being a Gunship but also to be an aircraft of following missions.
- Airborne assault
- Search and rescue
- Scientific research support
- Weather reconnaissance
- Aerial refueling
- Aerial firefighting
- Maritime patrol
Nearly 40 variants of the C-130 Hercules were manufactured and they were sold under the name L-100 to nearly 60 of the world countries. As for the service of C-130 Hercules with US military, it started back in 1956 and aback in 2007, the C-130 Hercules became the 5th ever aircraft to have completed the service of 50 years with the US military.
As for the time with The Blue Angels, C-130 Hercules serves as the support and maintenance aircraft for the team for the past fifty years since its joining. While this aircraft might not get the necessary respect and attention during The Blue Angels’ performances, it is still the aircraft that if not there, the show would perhaps not go on.
For our readers, we present to you a few of the amazing features about the C-130 Hercules of The Blue Angels aka The Fata Albert.
Conversion to Blue Angles
The iconic role of Fat Albert with The Blue Angels started back in 1970. The demanding logistic duties that were needed for the aircraft support for The Blue Angels team could only be managed and fulfilled by an aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules. It was like a match made in heaven for the team and this aircraft.
The aircraft happen to have a versatile frame that allows for it to be designed in many variants and even a gunship. Due to this ability, the aircraft nearly has 40 variants and it is still one of the few aircraft that are still in production even after 60 years. The latest variant of the C-130 Hercules is designated as the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules.
The aircraft which is specifically known as the Fat Albert of The Blue Angels is the T mole of the C-130 Hercules. This aircraft is powered by 4 of the Allison T56 engines which give it a speed of 420 knots for a cruising range of 2400 miles while carrying a payload of whooping 45000 pounds.
This is certainly a beast of an aircraft and was meant to do some heavy hauling of the payload. Still, this does not mean that the aircraft is the one without speed and maneuverability. You put inside a capable pilot and the aircraft can tear through the skies with amazing maneuverability.
The wingspan of the aircraft is about 132 feet while the length is only a few feet short of being 100 feet. This is certainly a gigantic machine.
The most famous of the demonstrations form the Fat Albert is the JATO (Jet Assisted Take-off). During this performance, Fat Albert takes off while suing a runway of 1500 feet length. For those who had loved these JATO demonstrations, they had to endure the sad news that the demonstration was canceled back in 2009. The reason was that the rockets provided for jet take-off were of the Vietnam War era and they were not available anymore. Still, there are a lot of videos online where you can see the demonstrations of how easily this massive machine takes to the sky under the power of rockets.
The crew of the Fat Albert is comprised of the 3 pilots and 5 of the enlisted aircrew which are all Marines. The aircraft has to work 8 months out of a year each year since its joining of The Blue Angels team. The work that Fat Albert does is to transport both the personnel and the equipment of the team to the location of each show. During this transport, the Fat Albert covers a distance of nearly 100000 miles.
As for the months of winter, the Fat Albert is made to do logistics run El Centro, NAS Pensacola and Fl. El Centro. Fl. El Centro is the training home for the Blue Angels in the winter as well as the site of the new show for each year. Fl. El Centro is located just 11 miles north of the Mexican border in California.
The very first female pilot hired by The Blue Angels was back in 2014 and she was Captain Katie Higgins who was allowed to join the crew of Fat Albert. She has the combat flight experience from her time in both Africa and Afghanistan and now she is making use of that experience to take the Fat Albert to its very limits.
Sometimes the rides for the members of Navy also get incentive rides on the Fat Albert alongside Capt. Katie Higgins and her 2 co-pilots. Sadly in summer of 2016, Captain Katie Higgins flew the Fat Albert for the last time at the Seattle Seafair Airshow.