On August 23, 1954 the YC-130 Hercules made its maiden flight in California from the Lockheed Martin plant in Burbank to Edwards Air Force Base. The C-130 is still in production today, making it the longest running military aircraft production line in history.

Archived photo of the YC-130 Hercules during its ferry flight from Burbank, Calif. to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. August 23, 1954. U.S. Air Force photo.


The need for the C-130 came from Air Force’s Tactical Air Command during 1951, after the Korean War, to fill a void for medium-cargo tactical transport. The C-130 is also the most modified aircraft in the Air Force with multiple variants and hundreds of configurations, according to the Air Mobility Command Historian Office.

A Michigan Air National Guard C-130E Hercules aircraft from 171st Airlift Squadron dispatches it’s flares during a low-level training mission over Lake Huron, Michigan, March 16, 2006. U.S. Air Force photo, Master Sergeant Munnaf Joarder.


The C-130 can be used for airlift, aeromedical missions, personnel and cargo airdrop, aerial refueling, natural disaster relief missions, Antarctic resupply to the National Science Foundation, weather reconnaissance, aerial spray missions and firefighting duties for the U.S. Forest Service. The MC-130E Combat Talon was developed for the USAF during the Vietnam War to support special operations missions in Southeast Asia, and led to both the MC-130H Combat Talon II as well as the AC-130 Spectre/Spooky/Stinger II/Ghostrider series of gunships.

A standard C-130 can airlift 92 ground troops, 64 fully-equipped paratroopers, 74 litter patients or 45,000 pounds of cargo.

An HH-60G Pave Hawk with the 55th Rescue Squadron maneuvers into position to refuel from an HC-130P/N with the 79th Rescue Squadron. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce.

The C-130J Super Hercules, the latest version of the venerable platform, was introduced February of 1999. More than 40 variants of the Hercules, including civilian versions marketed as the Lockheed L-100, operate in more than 60 nations.

A U.S. Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules aircraft (s/n 97-1351) from the 135th Airlift Squadron, 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard stationed at Warfield Air National Guard base in Baltimore, Maryland (USA), in flight during a training exercise. U.S. Air Force photo.