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Old 10-25-2005, 02:01 PM
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Jerry D Jerry D is offline
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Default A Short History Of C-130a, Tail # 56-0518

C-130 that is on static display at the front gate of Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. LRAFB is where all US C-130 crewmembers go to get their initial Herk training. Below is a history of this plane:


The C-130A Hercules, tail # 56-0518, was the 126th built by Lockheed Aircraft corp. of Marietta, Georgia. It was accepted into the Air Force inventory on 23 August 1957.

It was assigned to the 314th Troop Carrier Wing at Sewart AFB, Tennessee, from 1964 to 1972. On 2 November 1972, it was given to the South Vietnamese Air Force as part of the Military Assistance Program. A few years later, the aircraft would be involved in a tremendously historic flight.

On 29 April 1975,this Herk was the last out of Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. With over 100 aircraft destroyed on the flight line at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, some of them still burning, it was the last flyable C-130 remaining. In a very panicked state, hundreds of people were rushing to get aboard, as the aircraft represented a final ticket to freedom.

People hurriedly crowded into the Herk, packing in tighter and tighter. Eventually, the loadmaster informed the pilot, Major Phuong, a South Vietnamese instructor pilot, that he could not get the rear ramp closed due to the number of people standing on it. In a moment of inspiration, Major Phuong slowly taxied forward, then hit the brakes. The loadmaster called forward again stating he had successfully got the doors closed.

In all, 452 people were on board, including a staggering 32 in the cockpit alone. Using a conservative estimate of 100 pounds per person, it translated into an overload of at least 10,000 pounds. Consequently, the Herk used every bit of the runway and overrun before it was able to get airborne.

The target was Thailand, which should have been 1:20 in flight time, but after an hour and a half, the aircraft was over the Gulf of Slam, and they were clearly lost. Finally, a map was located, they identified some terrain features, and they were able to navigate. They landed at Utapao, Thailand after a three and a half hour flight.

Ground personnel were shocked at what "fell out" as they opened the doors. It was clear that a longer flight would almost certainly have resulted in a loss of life. In the end, however, all 452 people made it to freedom aboard this historic C-130.

Upon landing, the aircraft was reclaimed by the United States Air Force and was assigned to two different Air National Guard units for the next 14 years. On 28 June 1989, it made its final flight to Little Rock Air Force Base, current home of the 314th Airlift Wing, and was placed on static display.
[><] Dixie born and proud of it.
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Old 10-25-2005, 02:45 PM
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Bill Farnie Bill Farnie is offline
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A fascinating and informative post. The pictures and stories of the helicopters on the embassy roof during the fall of Saigon are well known but this story of last C-130 and the incredible feat of flying with such an overload and for so long, without any loss of life to boot, is one I never heard before. Thanks.
506th Infantry "Stands Alone"

It is well that war is so terrible, or we should get too fond of it. General Robert E. Lee
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Old 11-04-2005, 08:34 AM
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Boats Boats is offline
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Ya know I caught a hop on one of those and flew backwards in a plane with no windows. Very gold tooo! We left Frisco and went direct to Guam or Midway can't remember in Dress Blues and Pea Coats when they landed I thought I'd die it was so hot.

From there we went to PI and from there we went to VN via several supply ships. I remember that long trip very well.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Old 12-22-2007, 12:34 PM
118th AES Retired 118th AES Retired is offline
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I had the pleasure of flying on this old 'herky' before its' retirement.

Kudos to those who have maintained it through the years, and even today
as it sits on static display!
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Old 02-09-2008, 04:46 PM
A.B A.B is offline
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56-510/530 Lockheed C-130A-8-LM Hercules

518 (c/n 182-3126) to SVAF, later returned to USAF. Now on display at Little Rock AFB, AR.

Source "J. Baugher USAAS/USAAC/USAAF/USAF Aircraft Serials" subpage, section "1956 Serial Numbers (56-001/956) Last revised December 25, 2007":

For more research regarding individual aircrafts, by all US mil. branches, see:

Baugher mil.-AC serialnumber database (Incredibly Extensive!):
Click to View Search Results for +site Google: +siteClick to View Search Results for +site Google: +site(Note by A.B: Also see via google resultlinks above, for various AC's in the website. Site also has a 2nd part, ending "jbaugher1/", which 2nd google-link displayes results from. End note by A.B).

Jerry D, Sir!

Thank You for sharing the info in your post. Most interresting read indeed!

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