Saluting 60 Years of Hercules History
History truly did repeat itself on April 7 at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility in Marietta, Georgia.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, employees, site leadership and U.S. Air Force officials gathered to salute the 60th anniversary of the rollout and first flight of the first production C-130 Hercules. That aircraft made its initial flight on April 7, 1955, in Marietta. All C-130s — except for the two YC-130 prototypes — have been built in Marietta on the world’s longest continuously operating military aircraft production line.
Top photo: Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin; Lockheed-Georgia Division (now Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company) President Dan Houghton (later Lockheed Corporation CEO); Col. Edward McRay, Commander, Air Force Plant Representative Office, Marietta, Georgia (now DCMA) christen the first C-130A to roll off the Marietta production line. Bottom photo: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal; George Shultz, Lockheed Martin Vice President and General Manager—C-130 Programs; Shan Cooper, Lockheed Martin Vice President and Marietta Site General Site Manager; Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, Commander, US Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida; Col. Joshua Rogers, Chief of Flight Operations, Defense Contract Management Agency Marietta Site recreate the photo years later.
Six decades prior, a similar group gathered to honor the first production C-130 as it rolled off the production line, in the very same spot. At that time, it was then-Gov. Marvin Griffin who spoke to the crowd and had the honor of christening that first Hercules C-130A with a bottle of Chattahoochee River water.
This time, Gov. Deal recreated the event by breaking another bottle of Chattahoochee River water on an MC-130J Commando II assigned to U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command at the U.S. base at RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom.
“Very few things in life last for 60 years. To have an aircraft of the magnitude, durability and versatility of the C-130 manufactured right here in Georgia is indeed a great accomplishment,” said Gov. Deal. “It continues to be a model that is versatile and known around the world. It is recognized as a true workhorse. It lives up to its legendary name of Hercules.”
The C-130 Program celebrated the 60th anniversary of the YC-130’s first flight in August 2014. C-130s have been delivered to 63 nations and are currently operated from 70 nations. More than 70 different mission variants of the C-130 have been produced and company officials estimate that the global Hercules fleet has amassed more than 22 million flight hours to date.
In continuous production longer than any other military aircraft, the C-130 has earned a reputation as a workhorse ready for any mission, anywhere, anytime. There is no aircraft in aviation history — either developed or under development — that can match the flexibility, versatility and relevance of the C-130 Hercules.