A 47-year old C-130E transport #63-7868 that flew hundreds of combat and humanitarian missions around the world flew into Robins AFB, September 6 to be retired at the Museum of Aviation.  The aircraft was welcomed by a crowd of local reporters and the parents of the navigator on board the last flight, Major John Fay, who graduated from Houston County High School in Warner Robins.  Major Fay is a C-130 instructor at Little Rock Air Force Base, the largest C-130 training base in the country.  His father, John Sr., a former KC-135 pilot in the Air Force, and his mother Cathy, a former Air Force nurse, gave their son a big hug as the crew came off the aircraft.

The Fays live in Bonaire, GA and also have another son flying C-17 Globemaster aircraft at McGuire AFB, NJ and a daughter who serves at a Navy hospital.  It was the first time the Fays had seen their son navigate a C-130 aircraft into Robins AFB and the first time they had seen him in over a year.  John was a Junior ROTC cadet a Houston County High and an ROTC graduate from Valdosta State.

The C-130 that came in for retirement was manufactured by Lockheed Aircraft in Marietta, Georgia in April 1964.  Its first assignment was to an airlift unit at Pope AFB, NC.  Seven months after it got to North Carolina the brand new aircraft and several other C-130s were called into action to rescue civilians who had been taken hostage by Simba rebels in the Congo city of Stanleyville. Dubbed Operation Red Dragon, U.S. crews first flew to Belgium to pick up Belgian paratroopers, then on to Spain and Ascension Island and finally to a remote airfield in Africa called Kamina, the staging base for the rescue operation.  Early on the morning on November 23, the C-130s flew over Sabenas airport in Stanleyville and dropped over 300 paratroopers who overpowered the rebels at the Victoria Hotel and freed the hostages.  In the C-130 flights that followed more than 2,000 civilians were taken out of Stanleyville to a safe haven at Leopoldville.

The C-130 being retired was one of the first C-130s to fly out a load of 100 civilians.  During its departure it was fired upon by rebels who managed to put a hole in the left wing fuel tank.  The commander of that aircraft was Captain Mac Secord, who now lives in Atlanta, GA.  He managed to take off and fly 800 miles to their base but had to shut down one engine during flight.  He and his entire airlift unit received the U.S. Air Force MacKay Trophy in 1964 for the most meritorious flight of the year.  All of the crewmembers involved were decorated with the Air Medal, and Captain Secord received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

From 1971 to 1973, #7868 was one of five C-130Es used by Air America for operations in Laos. For the next 16 years it flew missions out of Clark Air Base in the Philippines.  It was then assigned to the Rhode Island Air National Guard, and finally to airlift units at Pope AFB, NC and Little Rock AFB, AR.

The aircraft will eventually take its place at the Museum of Aviation displayed next to another historic airlifter – the last C-141 Starlifter to go through Programmed Depot Maintenance at Robins Air Force Base.

The C-130 Hercules E-models have been replaced with newer versions of the venerable airlifter, first the H-model introduced in 1974 and the J-model which entered the inventory in 1999.  The C-130J brings substantial performance improvements over all previous models, and has allowed the introduction of the C-130J-30, a stretch version with a 15-foot fuselage extension. The U.S. Air Force has selected the C-130J-30 to replace retiring C-130E's.




Span 32 feet swept, 63 feet extended
Length 73 feet 6 inches
Height 17 feet
Weight +100,000 lbs max
Armament One 20mm M61 Vulcan cannon, plus a mix of 24 conventional or nuclear weapons.
Engines Two Pratt & Whitney TF30s of 25,000 lbs thrust each with afterburner
Cost $8,200,000
Serial number 68-055
Maximum Speed 1,425 mph
Cruising Speed 685 mph
Range 3,632 miles
Service Ceiling 57,000 feet



 Museum of Aviation       GA Hwy 247 & Russell Parkway      Warner Robins, GA 31088       (478) 926-6870