Pic of the Day: C-130 Flies Off a Carrier

This awesome photo shows a Marine Corps KC-130F Hercules piloted by Navy Lt. James H. Flateley III taking off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in 1963.  The Herk performed a bunch of landings and fully loaded takeoffs aboard the ship over the course of several weeks in November of that year, setting the record for the largest aircraft to ever operate from an aircraft carrier.

I’ve seen videos of the KC-130 taking off and landing on the Forrestal many times but this is the first close up shot I’ve seen of the giant plane flying from the carrier.

Click through the jump to watch the video of the Herk operating on the ship (notice how you can see the phrase “Look Ma, No Hook” painted on the C-130’s nose:

Image via SNAFU.

  • Lance

    Saw the video of that its awesome to see.

    • Walt Bjorneby

      FWIW I understand with a light load (60 people) unstick for a 130 is about 66KIAS. The problem is that is below Vmc for an engine failure. Also, I had a video of a Cintinental 727 stopping in 900 feet of ground roll, zero wind. One of the few times the nose wheel brakes were used. 727 on a CV with 40 knots of wind over the deck? Why not?
      Walt BJ

  • ziv

    How in the world…
    Ok, the Forrestal was doing what, 33 knots? And the wind over the deck was probably 33 + 10 or 43 knots? Or thereabouts? Or were they sailing into a strong head wind?
    Stall speed with full flaps is around 100-110 knots? So the rotate speed is close to 100 knots? How do you get a heavily loaded aircraft to accelerate from 0-60 knots in 800 feet?
    And these videos show the 130 rotating, what, 600 feet down the deck?

    • Sattdon

      Watch the Videos ! It happened . I’m sure the ship was at 30 plus knots the same speed for Cat-ing and receiving other aircraft. It used no hook to stop. It did this 68 times . With assorted pay loads . The C130 used only the area of the ship left after stopping on the landing for take off !

    • Sattdon

      This plane is still being Manufactured at Lockeed in Marietta, Ga . Production begin in 1955 . Longest any plane has been Manufactured. Today’s version has stronger engines can land on these Carriers with no problems. The C130 the greatest plane ever built !

  • Yep

    They were carrying the seals secret stealth helicopters for operation gerenemo…

  • Steven R.

    In an emergency situation im sure an air force pilot could land on a carrier. This is a great thing to have. Although if this were to occur all the planes and helicopters on deck would have tobe put below deck along with a majority of the crew and i very expericened pilot lol.

  • dumb passenger

    I noticed a very important statistic, 21 take off and 21 landings (implied safe). It is very important to keep those two in synch.

  • Musson1

    What kind of wing clearance did it have? Feet? Inches?


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=561067924 Christopher Bloom

    It was a experiment and the Navy desided to go a diferent direction, and other than that episode “JAG” when “Harm” landed a CIA Hurc on a carrier it has never hapened again.

    • Mastro

      That Harm! What a well rounded aviator/commando/criminal lawyer he was!

      • Thomas L. Nielsen

        I am reminded of an old joke from ancient Greece:

        A Spartan is visiting Athens, and finds himself standing beside a local Athenian, looking at a huge wall painting of Athenian warriors.
        The Athenian comments: “Look at that! Aren’t the Athenians magnificent warriors?”
        To which the Spartan replies: “Yes. In paint”.

        Regards & all,

        Thomas L. Nielsen

  • Saltire

    What a great performing aircraft! C-130 is very impressive.

  • http://www.PrometheusGoneWild.com PrometheusGoneWild

    Wow. Those pilots had balls of steel.
    I wonder if the Air Force was looking at partnering with the Navy on a really big carrier? The idea has been bounced around a couple times. “Floating Air Base”. Two would be needed, one for each side of the world….
    The video reminds me of the Doolittle raid…..
    It also makes me think of an operation where they attached rockets to the front of a Hercules and the back. They wanted to land the craft in about a couple hundred feet using the front rockets to slow down; then take off in the same footage using the rear rockets. The idea did not work so well and was abandoned.
    I am surprised how quickly they stopped and took off. If it was not for the fact that the wings would take out half the aircraft parked along the sides, it would be doable…
    All the aircraft cannot go to the lower level. There is not even close to enough room. The lower deck is for aircraft that are going through in depth maintenance……

    • chaos0xomega

      Woops, misposted, anyway, in regards to the “Floating Air Base” I believe it was called a “Mobile Off-shore Base”. Critics argued that it would be more expensive, etc. than a conventional carrier, personally I think it was shot down because the Navy was worried that the AF and Army(supposedly intended to carry a brigade or two?) would prove that it could do the same thing as the Navy and Marine Corps but more effectively.

      • B. Flatley

        Not very practical. Switch gear was taken off the landing gear. Props were in reverse prior to touchdown. Would require clear decks. Rt wingtip was actually under catwalk during one stop. Seastate was actually up a bit do my brother tells me.

      • B. Flatley

        Not very practical. Switch gear was taken off the landing gear. Props were in reverse prior to touchdown. Would require clear decks. Rt wingtip was actually under catwalk during one stop. Seastate was actually up a bit so my brother tells Me

  • chaos0xomega

    Well, I dunno if the AF can land Hercs on carriers these days, but the U-2 is supposedly capable of carrier landings, somehow. They have enough difficulty landing them on land as-is, I can’t imagine how much more difficult it must be to land them on carriers.

    • Tri-ring

      You maybe able to land them although reuse of the craft is another issue.

      • Thomas L. Nielsen

        “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing”
        Louis Bleriot

        “Any landing where the plane can be used again is a great landing”
        Unknown (to me, at least)

        Anyway, forget the F-35C. Get some AC-130’s on to the carriers instead :-)

        Regards & all,

        Thomas L. Nielsen

  • Scubafreak

    Love to see them recreate that on the USS REAGAN with one of the new J-Birds…

    • MarkB

      It could only be done on a Forrestal class carrier as the Island was further forward allowing the plane to fit. James Flatley III I believe still holds the record for the most carrier landings of anyone. He made his 1500th with his midshipman son in the back seat of an F-4 Phantom while Captain of the USS Saratoga.

  • peaceaim

    In 1963, the Navy was searching for a new plane to serve in the Carrier Onboard Delivery, or COD, program. The plane they used had a 300-mile range. The Chief of Naval Operations ordered a feasibility study of using the C-130 on aircraft carriers.

    Lt. James Flatley III, a fighter pilot attached to [i]USS Forrestal,[/i] landed a Marine Corps KC-130 refueling variant on the Forrestal in October 1963. He performed 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 unassisted full-stop landings (no tailhook on the Hercules!) and 21 unassisted (no catapult) takeoffs at weights up to the aircraft’s maximum rated weight.

    For his efforts, Lt. Flatley, who would later be promoted to Captain, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    As for the Hercules “Super COD” project, the Navy decided that even though the plane was clearly capable of landing on a carrier, using it in regular service was inviting disaster and went with a smaller airframe (C-2A).

    Today they comes into this problem again. which aircraft to choose for this COD mission? C-2A is getting older. Ford-class is coming. V-22 anyone?

    • Mastro

      Yeah I guess the C130 couldn’t land with much cargo- so the only benefit would be its range. I guess they could take off with a lot of cargo- but why would that be useful?

      Clearing the deck is a disadvantage and having a mediocre pilot (eventually) try to land the beast would be an accident waiting to happen.

      • blight

        You’d think the problem would be more taking off with heavy cargo loads? Most likely they realized that a C-130 couldn’t carry 19 tons onto a carrier like it would an airstrip…anybody know what the load capacity for takeoffs and landings on a CVN’s flight deck would be? Presumably the modern supercarriers have larger flight decks (the landings were tested on smaller carriers of the waybackwhen).

  • yesjb

    Can anyone tell re the flap setting.
    I thought initially on approach they were all the way down but they didn’t seen to change on the touch and go.
    They looked more like about 15 degrees. But i can’t tell for sure especially not knowing what the full flap config. looks like.
    If the pilot landed with 15 degrees of flap…that would be remarkable!

  • bevel450

    Does anyone have a video of the U-2 carrier demo ?

    • Bill Johnson

      Here’s U-2 carrier ops: http://live-defensetech.sites.thewpvalet.com/2011/12/06/video-u-2-carri…

  • lee heydolph

    I met Adm. Flatley some years ago aboard USS Yorktown in SC…My only question of him
    was if there was really a sign on the island…..”Look Ma…No tail hook!” He smiled!
    And his marvelous mother became a sky diver….as an octogerian!! or was she 90???
    A fine tribute to a US Naval Aviator family….and our greatest generation….bar none!
    Lee Heydolph, USS Intrepid Assn.

  • Jim Burr

    I don’t know if it was mentioned, but two engines were reversed in midair just before landing. I had the privilege of riding along during practice of short takeoffs and landings at PAX River NAS. Was good to see 798 again. I don’t remember Flatly, was just another day to earn flight pay. Saw rerun of JAG tonight that brought me here.

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  • Don

    In 1963 I was assigned to train Navy Jocks in the Hercules at McGuire. I had just completed 4 years and thousand of hours in the A’s in the far East. The Herk will flare at 70 kts. The marines at Atsugi presented us the, Flying Jennys with a great Nipon painting depicting a Jarhead Herk on final apprach to the Carrier. We took it as a rub it in Joke…Great party with them though…more to that story., Don USAF retired and much older and perhaps smarter??

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