Aircraft, Airport, Aircraft Specification

The Mighty KC-130 Hercules

The Mighty KC-130 Hercules

A C-130 Hercules Landed on an Aircraft Carrier

The world of aviation regularly sees some of the most-amazing happenings. One such amazing event was that of the Hercules C-130 landing on the USS Forrestal (CVA-59), making it the largest and heaviest plane ever to land on an aircraft carrier.

LT James H. Flatley, III, and his crew landing the C-130F on the Super Carrier

The C-130 Unbelievable Mission

Vice Admiral James H. Flatley, Jr., US Navy

The experiment was carried out on the Super Carrier Onboard Delivery Aircraft (COD), on the 30th of October 1963, about 500 miles from Boston in the middle of the rough seas of the North Atlantic. The whole point of the mission was to deliver emergency supplies to aircraft carriers when needed. Before this particular experiment, tests had only been carried out with aircraft that were much smaller

When the pilot of the mission, James H Flatley III was first told about this new mission, he could not believe it. In addition to a whole number of other complications, whether the plane would be able to meet the maximum sink rate was probably one of their biggest concerns. But surprisingly, they managed to stay well within the limit.

A Challenging Feat

Flatley’s KC-130F Hercules aboard the USS Forrestal (1963)
The Hercules C-130 only had a few small changes from the Grumman C-1 Trader, the original plane used for COD missions. Anti-skid brakes were added to the new model, and a smaller nose-landing gear orifice was fixed to the C-130 and the under-wing refueling pods detached from the mighty Hercules

Now for the actual challenge: the test. On the day of the test, the sea was pretty rough, so the ship had to increase its speed by 10 knots in order to reduce the wind direction. The plane managed to land perfectly and stopped right opposite the captain’s bridge and was welcomed with a lot of laughter and cheering.

American Heroes

The Navy awarded Lieutenant James H Flatley the Distinguished Flying Cross, but the Hercules C-130 was considered to be too risky to use for COD purposes, and substituted with a smaller aircraft.

Salute to lieutenant. James H Flatley III, pilot; Lieutenant commander. W.W. Stovall, copilot; ADR-1 E.F. Brennan, flight engineer; and Lockheed engineering flight test pilot Ted H. Limmer, Jr for their great courage and success, having achieved 29 takeoffs and landing with a gross weight of 40 to 55 tons on 745 feet of runway, flight deck; I guess it would have been a hair-raising experience to land a C-130, nicknamed the Hog on such a short runway. You would need to be a made of steel nerves to attempt such a daring mission. These man a truly American heroes.

Flatley’s KC-130 Hercules aboard the USS Forrestal (1963). The aircraft is now displayed at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

The trial conducted by the Hercules on the USS Forrestal
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