The Mighty Hercules

This post is about the incredible C-130 Hercules military aircraft- but don’t worry, it’s not going to be a flavourless list of specifications and figures. Although I’d probably find such a list interesting, I’ll restrain myself! Instead, this post will focus on a fortuitous day in June 2012; when I saw a Hercules up close, and most unexpectedly!

I’d just landed at London International Airport (located in Ontario’s London), where I was picked up by my grandparents. It’s about a half-hour drive through verdant countryside to my grandparents’ house, and as we drove my eyes (as usual) kept wandering to the sky. I’m always on the lookout for airplanes… well, my attention was rewarded that day by the sight of a mammoth military plane in the sky! At once, I recognized it to be a C-130 Hercules; the transport mainstay of the Royal Canadian Air Force for the past fifty years! The Hercules really is an amazing and versatile aircraft, and it’s been one of my favourite planes ever since I learned of its existence.

Herc St Thomas

The most common planes I see are Cessnas, or the occasional Learjet or Pilatus. Seeing a Hercules is a rarity!

I watched the Hercules from the car for awhile, but before long it was out of sight. Fortunately, my grandpa loves planes just as much as I do, so we continued on to the local municipal airport- just in time to see the Hercules finish up its landing and taxi towards us!


What a sight this was!


There was an entire field between us and the Hercules at this point- but it was loud nonetheless!

I could honestly not believe my luck! I’ve seen so many fantastic aircraft in completely random places that I think they must follow me around… from a pair of B-52s while camping in New York to F-15s in the UK, I keep seeing unusual aircraft wherever I go.


The Hercules eventually parked on the tarmac, and I saw its crew exit and walk around. One of the crew was a woman, and I was very envious- I kept thinking that that should be me!


The Herc is a big aircraft! It has a wingspan of 132 feet, and a payload of 45,000 pounds. That equates to 64 paratroopers, 6 pallets, or even two armoured personnel carriers!


Although the Hercules first flew in 1954, it’s been continually upgraded since then. This model is an older variant; and Canada now operates seventeen newer C-130Js

Seeing this wonderful aircraft made for an afternoon of awe for me. It’s a dream of mine to one day fly in a Hercules, and I’m totally awestruck every time I see one. However, since then I’ve never seen one quite so unexpectedly, and this was a day I will always remember!


9 thoughts on “The Mighty Hercules

  1. I love the Herc! I grew up with them flying over head.

    The were local to me when CFB Edmonton was still under Air Command jurisdiction and you could also see them at the international and, sadly now gone, municipal airport as Spar Aerospace had maintenance contracts with several nations to do work on their Hercs.

    I got a ride in a Herc when I was a teen in the Air Cadets and I used to live under and approach path to the international airport and can clearly remember a US Coast Guard Herc coming in overhead a good deal lower than was typical one day. I still kick myself for not having my camera with me for that moment.

    Also, thanks for restraining yourself with “flavourless” specs and numbers. That stuff is a dime a dozen out there and if you look at enough sources of information, it typically starts conflicting. 🙂

    • Thanks for your lovely comment, and the reblog as well! Sounds like you have some wonderful memories of the Herc- I hope that one day I’ll get a ride in one as you did in your teenage years! Thank you again 🙂

  2. I have seen a Hercules up close at Sherbrooke airport in 2010. I was there visiting with a veteran who wanted to show me his home-built airplane. I took several pictures and videos when the C-130 took off.


    • That must have been a wonderful experience! Close encounters with amazing planes like the Herc are always great, aren’t they? I’m so glad that we in Canada have the chance to see such aircraft on occasion!

  3. A fabulous aircraft. I often see them flying here, sometimes VERY low buzzing the school on their way to RAF Mildenhall. I have heard they are sadly being withdrawn. What a loss that would be!

    • How wonderful, those schoolchildren are certainly spoiled! And although I am looking forward to see the Herc’s replacement (I believe it’s the Airbus A400M, at least in the UK), it will be a loss indeed!

  4. I will show this my husband, who still gets teary-eyed when he sees these ‘old wrinklies’. He was engineering officer on the RNZAF (when we still had one) Hercules squadron and loves these aircraft. And for myself, I have traveled half-way around the world in one of these wonderful work-horses.

    • I’m glad you and your husband share my love of the Hercules! You must both have some wonderful memories of this great aircraft. Thank you for your comment, and for sharing your story!

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