BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, LA (KSLA) – The Blue Angels will cap off both days of the Defenders of Liberty Air Show this weekend at Barksdale Air Force Base. But before those six F/A 18 Hornet jet fighters begin their precision maneuvers, there’s an opening act. It’s a Lockheed Martin C-130T Hercules, nicknamed “Fat Albert.”
It’s a demonstration you really need to see to believe. So, we went along for the ride Friday afternoon for a media preview and became the only civilian in the cockpit for that 10-minute demonstration.
Fat Albert, or “Bert” for short, is critical in transporting all the personnel and equipment for the Blue Angels for each air show. But, it also has some tricks of its own. In fact, our demonstration ride mirrored the performance conducted by Bert’s crew before each and every Blue Angels performance.
After the flight, pilot Major Dusty Coo, explained, “What you went through was just some of the performance maneuvers that we would tactically employ using a C-130 in combat.”
The crew of this Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules conducts a 45-degrees nose up takeoff to about 12-hundred feet, showing off its high-performance climb capability. “And that puts you over the top and that’s where you end up getting the weightlessness,” continued Maj. Cook.
Shortly after takeoff comes a ‘parade pass’ in front of the crowd. Not long after that, Bert goes down to 60 feet in front of the crowd for what’s called a ‘flat pass’ at a speed of 375 miles an hour.
Then the real fun comes, with what they call the ‘tactical landing.’ That’s where the plane starts out high before pointing nose down at 25 degrees and stopping within 1,500.
“I hurtle towards the earth before we hit our maximum speeds with the flaps and the gear and I just flare out the roll, land and I stomp on the brakes and use max reverse,” concluded a smiling Maj. Cook.
The goal of such a maneuver is to avoid small arms fire in a hostile environment. As for the ultimate goal of the Blue Angels: To encourage young men and women to pursue a career in the U.S. Navy or Marines.
Once Sunday’s show wraps up, Fat Albert’s 4-dozen personnel will pack her up and head back home to Pensacola, Florida with another mission accomplished.
Underway on this Friday evening, May 1, an exclusive air show for Barksdale Air Force Base families. Then the official shows open to the public on Saturday and Sunday each morning at 9:00 a.m. and the show kicks off each day at 11:00 a.m. Just a reminder that admission is free.