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C-130 Designed for Rugged Airfields

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 1996 – The C-130 Hercules aircraft that crashed Aug. 17 near Jackson Hole, Wyo., should have had no problem taking off from the high-altitude site, Air Force officials said.


The Jackson Hole airport is more than 6,000 feet above sea level, has short runways and is close to tall mountains, but the C-130 was designed to lift combat loads quickly from short runways. Conditions there shouldn't have hampered a normal takeoff, officials said.


The four-engine turboprop aircraft was carrying a communications van, luggage and equipment to support the president while he vacationed in Jackson Hole. Similar aircraft accompany the president on nearly all domestic trips.


The Air Force first deployed C-130s in 1955. Since then, the Lockheed Martin aircraft have been used to haul cargo and troops, as gunships, aerial firefighters and air ambulances, and in satellite recovery. The United States and more than 100 other countries have used the rugged aircraft in countless humanitarian relief operations. In addition, the C-130 played a pivotal role in moving troops, supplies and equipment to forward bases during Operation Just Cause and throughout the Persian Gulf War, officials said.


The C-130 can accommodate 92 combat troops or 64 fully equipped paratroops on side-facing seats. For medical evacuations, it can carry up to 74 litter patients.

General Characteristics

Primary function: Intratheater airlift

Power plant: Four Allison T-56-A-15, 4,600 horsepower turboprop engines.

Length: 97 feet, 9 inches.

Height: 38 feet, 3 inches.

Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches.

Speed: 374 mph at 20,000 feet.

Ceiling: 33,000 feet with 100,000 pounds payload.

Maximum takeoff weight: 155,000 pounds.

Range: 2,356 miles with maximum payload; 5,200 miles with no cargo.

Unit cost: $22.9 million (1992 dollars).

Standard crew: Five (two pilots, a navigator, flight engineer and loadmaster).

Date deployed: April 1955.

Inventory: active force, 98; Air National Guard, 173; Air Force Reserve, 606 (October 1992 figures).

(Source: USAF Fact Sheet 92-34, C-130 Hercules)


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