U.S. Navy Blue Angels retire Fat Albert C-130 Hercules after more than 30,000 flight hours in 17 years.
The current “Fat Albert” has flown her last show. This current airframe, BUNO 164763, has been with the team since 2002 and was the last C-130 to conduct a jet-assisted take-off (JATO).
While this may come as a shock to many of our fans, we have known this day was coming. The team will be transported via Fleet-provided logistics until a permanent replacement aircraft is identified. Fat Albert will enjoy her retirement as a ground-based training aid in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Fat Albert hasn’t been a consistent part of the team’s routine performances for nearly two years. The Navy grounded its KC-130T fleet in July of 2018 after a KC-130T crashed in rural Mississippi killing 15 Marines and one sailor.
Unfortunately, it seems that 164763 finally hit the end of the road, and was flown for the final time from Pensacola, the team’s home base, to Fort Worth for use as a ground trainer.
This means that the team will almost certainly revert to borrowing a regular grey-painted C-130 for the near future. When this happens, the fill-in aircraft is referred to as “Ernie”, and because of structural differences, it is not used for airshow demonstrations.
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The team will now have even more of a reason to look forward to the previously discussed acquisition of an ex-Royal Air Force C-130J to serve as the new permanent Fat Albert. Once the new aircraft arrives, the Marine Corps crew should again be able to show off what the old (new) girl can do!
The Blue Angels use a United States Marine Corps Lockheed C-130T Hercules, nicknamed “Fat Albert”, for their logistics, carrying spare parts, equipment, and to carry support personnel between shows.
Beginning in 1975, “Bert” was used for Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) and short aerial demonstrations just prior to the main event at selected venues, but the JATO demonstration ended in 2009 due to dwindling supplies of rockets. “Fat Albert Airlines” flies with an all-Marine crew of three officers and five enlisted personnel.