The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron C-130 Hercules, affectionately known as Fat Albert, returned to its role as the logistics and transport aircraft of the Blue Angels, June 14.
Fat Albert underwent a ten-month preplanned Periodic Maintenance Interval (PMI), which allowed for her to go through extensive maintenance checks and repairs that are required every five years.
While the aircraft will resume its role transporting the Blue Angels maintenance and support team, it will still be several more weeks before it performs at air shows. This period is necessary for the pilots and crew to meet training requirements that will allow them to perform the maneuvers that have been thrilling fans since 1975.
“The support we received from the fleet was key in allowing us to conduct our mission every week. We would not have been able to get the required gear and personnel to each show site without their assistance,” said Blue Angels commanding officer, Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi. “Fat Albert and the Marines that operate her every day are instrumental to the overall success of our mission and we cannot express how thrilled we are that she is back to help the team and inspire fans.”
Because of the time away for maintenance, this was the first time some of the all-Marine crew have seen their aircraft since joining the team.
“I was really eager to see it,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Anthony Black, a native of New Port Richey, Florida. “When I walked in and saw it for the first time, it was gorgeous. I spent half a year on the team before I was able to touch it.”
Gunnery Sgt. Stephen Stewart, Fat Albert’s flight engineer and Jacksonville, Florida native, is ready to get the aircraft back in front of the fans.
“I love showing off the capabilities of the C-130 and talking about it,” Stewart said. “We love to use this plane to represent the Navy and Marine Corps.”
The three Marine Corps C-130 pilots assigned to the Blue Angels will spend the next few weeks training before the aircraft’s first demonstration. While that first demonstration date hasn’t been decided yet, the pilots are anxious to get back in front of a crowd.
“We’re turned up to an 11 to return to a logistical support role for the Blue Angels,” said Cartersville, Georgia native, and C-130 pilot, Maj. Mark Montgomery. “We’re going to work hard to get back to our secondary role of performing at air shows.”
Fat Albert transported approximately 40 team members to the Ocean City Air Show in Ocean City, Maryland June 14. The C-130 has been the support aircraft of the Blue Angels since 1970, but began performing short demonstrations prior to the jet demonstrations in 1975.