Happy birthday Herk. You are widely known as one of the most successful airframes to enter the inventory. Your variations make your success obvious. C-130, WC-130, EC-130, HC-130, MC-130, LC-130, and of course the most lethal version of all, the AC-130.
As the video shows, you also made a great military aerial demonstration team.
I'm personally very fond of this aircraft. In pilot training I opted for the Herk track rather than the fighter track. Why? I didn't like the culture I saw from the fighter community at that time, despite wanting to fly something fun. So I went with the Herk because it had a crew mentality, it traveled, it was important, and it was not some boring airliner. To me, the C-130 was something like a monster truck of the sky.
Pre-911 flying the Herk was pure bliss. The travel, the keys to the jet for a weekend or longer, so much fun was to be had. Whether it was dropping the Airborne students at Fort Benning (of which I am alumni), or doing multiple re-configures for multiple drops at Pope, or a low level near Reno, Nevada it was a great time. Assault landings into dirt strips were always exciting, low level tactical formation was a blast, and any time passing through St. Johns, Newfoundland was a pleasure.
I can neither confirm nor deny that I had a kite on the east coast pass under my wing while the ramp was open and dudes were waving to crowds on beaches in harnesses.
Then there was 9/11.
I was doing aircraft commander upgrade in the C-130H at Little Rock AFB when it happened. I left billeting and noticed smoking buildings on the news as I went to go fly a simulator. After I got to the sim building I was informed what had happened.
We flew the simulator mission anyway. Herk drivers hack the mish. We debriefed in front of a television and tried to understand what had happened. We knew life was going to change.
Two days later I put the Gunship number one on my dream sheet. Within weeks I had orders. I spent five years in the most lethal machine to ever fly, and got to personally kill a great many of those who would harm America. I have never had a more difficult job in my career, nor one nearly as satisfying.
The Herk is about getting it done. Whether it's JATO rockets, landing on aircraft carriers, low level airdrop, flying in hurricanes, landing on ice in Antarctica, or slaughtering the enemy and keeping Americans safe on the ground...the Herk is dependable.
Great aircraft and great aircrew. Happy birthday, Son of Zeus.