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History of the C-130: Part I

history of c-130 hercules

The C-130 Hercules, otherwise known as the “Herc,” is one of the most easily recognized and versatile aircraft around the world. The various models of the C-130 have flown in both combat and civilian missions, and the applications of the plane are practically endless. Additionally, the versatility of the aircraft and the legacy of its creators have made the C-130 into a staple of modern aviation and exploration. Since the aircraft has had so many different named configurations, ranging from the C-130A to the L-100, you need to understand the history behind the C-130’s concept design and why it has been so popular among both military and civilian officials.

Why Did the Air Force Need the C-130 Hercules?

In 1951, the United States Air Force (USAF) was heavily involved in the Korean War. Hostile areas and rough, dirt-only runways were making the USAF’s existing aircraft difficult to utilize fully. Moreover, existing aircraft were incapable of delivering the thousands of paratroopers, ground soldiers and supplies needed to continue the war effort. However, the problems continued as the large-scale needs were expanding in conjunction with the necessity of a low-altitude, high-lift transport. In fact, the aircraft’s namesake comes from the legendary 12 labors endured by the Greek demigod, Hercules.

Designing and Production of the “Herc” Begins and Slows.

Lockheed started working on prototype designs, with Lockheed basing those designs on existing aircraft made by the company. A “high-winged, four-engine design” from Lockheed, explains, was adjusted to meet the control and low-altitude needs of the USAF. On August 24, 1954, the first version of the C-130 Hercules, the “YC-130,” flew in a demonstration for the USAF. Impressed with its capabilities, the USAF ordered this series of aircraft, and by December 1956, the first deliveries of the C-130A began.

history of the c-130 us Air Force
Oscar C. Williams/

As seen in the photo above, the C-130 Hercules, has the 54H60 Propeller System, marked by the 4 blades. A propeller system that C&S Propeller has worked on for decades. Within three years, engineers updated the engines and maximized the efficiency of each of the four-bladed propeller units, which expanded the operational ranges of the C-130. As a result, production of this line, the C-130B began in 1959, and soon, the C-130B-II took on the duties of a reconnaissance mission, providing radar imaging and housing antenna equipment in “faux underwing fuel tanks,”. However, winter needs became apparent, and the C-130 was adapted again with landing skis for Arctic service to become the C-130D.

Lobbying Keeps the C-130 Hercules Relevant.

The Pentagon stopped ordering all C-130s 25 years after its production began due to a surplus of aircraft during the Carter administration. Meanwhile, the Air Force had begun a search for a more efficient, medium-sized aircraft for similar jobs. Rather than going silently into the recesses of history, Lockheed used a congressional add-on tactic to sell another fleet of 256 C-130s to the Air Force. While the Air Force may not have needed so many new aircraft, one congressional study did find that the Air Force would have ordered at least five C-130s regardless. Of course, part of this add-on was reinforced through extensive lobbying and company-spurred research studies that highlighted how useful the C-130 could be in virtually any situation.


First Flight of the C-130

The first C-130 was delivered in 1956 to Ardmore AFB, OK. The City of Ardmore wanted to refurbish the plane and return it to its original unit, the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing. At the time, they were at Dyess AFB, TX and this is where the plane rests for all to see.

Although some may make a case against the C-130 and Lockheed, the modern world would be missing a piece of its heart without this aircraft. It has a history as rich as that of the U.S. and the only way to ensure the legacy of the C-130 understands its origins and how to apply to destinations yet to be explored. So, naturally, you might start wondering how it is being used today, which we will discuss in Part II.

Morgon Duke Joins C&S Propeller as Sales Manager

Morgon DukeC&S Propeller has hired Morgon Duke as Sales Manager. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, C&S Propeller is a global leader for maintenance, repair and overhaul of the Hamilton Sundstrand 54H60 large aircraft propeller system.

Prior to joining C&S, Morgon Duke’s professional career was as an executive sales manager focused on domestic and international business development and expansion. Notable is his success in developing new business units, start-ups and resurrecting underperforming business units through strategic sales initiatives.

“Morgon provides an expertise that will help our team manage our rapidly growing business expansion,” says VP and General Manager Buddy Tobin. “Along with his strategic skill set, Morgon brings attention to detail in his business efforts along with an uncompromising focus on customer satisfaction.”

Mr. Duke is a Fort Worth, Texas area native.

“Morgon has a professional reputation of exceeding customer expectations. We’re looking forward to the results of his sales leadership,” adds Jeff Heikke, president of Precision Aerospace Products LLC, the parent company of C&S.

Mr. Duke attended the University of Texas at Arlington with a concentration on Business Management.

C&S Propeller Relocation to Fort Worth, Texas

Buddy Tobin (left) and Jeff Heikke (right) meet with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price after signing the agreement on their new facility.
Buddy Tobin (left) and Jeff Heikke (right) meet with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price after signing the agreement on their new facility.

C&S Propeller is relocating its propeller maintenance, repair and overhaul business to Fort Worth, Texas this month. C&S plans to have its new headquarters and facility operational June 1, 2016.

In business for almost 50 years in southern California, C&S is taking advantage of the ‘business friendly’ environment of Texas and the historically entrenched aviation and aerospace industry within the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Founded in 1968, C&S Propeller is one of the world’s foremost experts in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the propeller systems used on the Lockheed C130 Hercules aircraft. Serving both military and civilian C130 operators around the globe, C&S is recognized as a category leader on the 54H60 propeller system utilizing the highest skilled and experienced technicians in the industry.

With over 1,400 aircraft in military and civilian operation, the Lockheed C130 is one of aviation’s largest and most widely used transport aircraft fleet.

Jeff Heikke, President of Precision Aerospace Products LLC, the parent company of C&S, made the decision to relocate to the Fort Worth market due to the fast growing business expansion C&S is experiencing. Mr. Heikke wanted to grow the C&S operation in a market familiar with aerospace. Jeff Heikke states, “C&S has had a long history in California. We look forward to the aerospace resources the Fort Worth market offers along with a lower cost of living for our employees and greater flexibility in our day to day operations.”

Buddy Tobin is the VP/General Manager of C&S Propeller and a native Texan. Mr. Tobin’s management is leading C&S’s success and growth. Tobin acknowledges, “C&S is a world leader in the maintenance and repair of this very important and complex propulsion system on the C130 ‘Herc’ fleet. And our success is due to employing the best and brightest airframe and power plant technicians. We are looking forward to settling in quickly and getting down to business in our new home.”

The C&S move to Fort Worth culminated in a partnership approach by C&S and the local Chamber of Commerce along with their economic development council.

David Berzina is executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He is thrilled to see C&S becoming Fort Worth’s latest member of this iconic industry. “Fort Worth’s aviation history dates back to 1911, and we are now home to hundreds of major aviation companies and related vendors who supply everything necessary to get the aircraft off the ground,” he said. “C&S Propeller will greatly benefit from close proximity to these companies, as well as from having access to a highly skilled workforce that is partially composed of former military personnel with expertise in engineering and avionics. The company’s presence in this strong aviation community will also support its future growth initiatives.”

Betsy Price, Fort Worth’s Mayor, is also very pleased to see her city’s portfolio of aerospace based companies growing with the inclusion of C&S. “C&S Propeller is a welcome addition to Fort Worth’s prestigious roster of aviation and aerospace companies,” said Mayor Price. “Our pro-business environment, strong economy, low cost of living, and highly skilled workforce continues to attract companies from California who want to maximize operational efficiencies and reduce costs, without compromising on the high quality of life desired by their employees.”

As of this release, C&S has signed a long term lease agreement on its new facility in the Southern area of Fort Worth. The new facility will occupy 18,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space.

New Production Supervisor Joins C&S Propeller

C&S Propeller is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Kirk to the position of Production Supervisor.  With over 14 years on-the-wing and intermediate level maintenance experience on 54H60 propellers, Mr. Kirk will play a key role in C&S Propeller’s success as the company moves to it’s new Texas facility.

Mr. Kirk served on active duty as a jet engine mechanic in the U.S. Navy for 11 years before transitioning to the reserves where he worked primarily on the P-3 Orion aircraft as a Quality Assurance Inspector.  During active duty he served as the Production Supervisor of the valve housing and pump housing work center before taking over as the T-56 engine module overhaul Production Supervisor.

While completing his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, Mr. Kirk will utilize his Lean 6 Sigma Green Belt certification to aide in improving C&S Propeller’s quality and production efficiencies.

Buddy Tobin Named C&S General Manager

Buddy Tobin has been named General Manager of C&S Propeller.Buddy Tobin C&S GM

Mr. Tobin brings extensive aerospace experience with nine years in senior management, overseeing Airframe Modification Programs for multiple repair stations. Beginning as an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic with advancing levels of responsibility in the aerospace field, he has lead efforts in certifying and running FAA Part 145 Repair Stations and PMA facilities. His technical experience & proven management record provides C&S with dynamic leadership in propelling the company forward to stronger performance on the path of growth.

Buddy Tobin earned a Bachelors Degree in Aviation Maintenance Management, is a certified Project Management Professional, holds an FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic Certificate with Inspection Authorization, and is a Commercial Multi Engine Instrument Rated Pilot.