FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom — Approximately 285,000 spectators have caught a glimpse of the C-130J Super Hercules cargo plane at the Farnborough International Air Show July 19-21.
The air show lasts until July 25.
A lot of work went into bringing the premier cargo giant from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to participate in this week-long air show. In addition to a static display, Lockheed Martin is leasing the plane for demo performances throughout the week.
According to Air Force Capt. Samuel Bartron, 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules pilot, long before any of the events start coordination of diplomatic clearances, fuel and flight plans, and services needed, as well as determination of equipment provided and aircraft parking and security.
Most people’s idea about the U.S. military is fighter pilots putting bombs on target and fast-flying jets. However, the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft offers a unique look at the Department of Defense’s mission.
"Once they set foot on our aircraft, they have a different appreciation for what we can do," said CBartron.
The mission of the C-130J Super Hercules is combat airlift and is very different from strategic airlift. Training for high altitude, low opening Army parachute drops, equipment drops, and landing on short runways occurs regularly, but the focus at Ramstein also includes humanitarian missions.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Thomas Parritt, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, describes the humanitarian missions for orphanages in Bulgaria and Romania as a project that involves the entire base community from collection of items to delivery.
Parritt also said any underdeveloped countries the Air Force deals with don't have the privileges afforded to others with ease of shipping methods or the infrastructure to facilitate the process
"The C-130J a lot of times is the only aircraft that can reach remote locations other larger planes cannot," said Bartron. "The American flag goes a long way in some parts of the world. People see these cargo planes and love Americans for the supplies we are bringing. We are building relationships that in the future benefit everyone."
Part of the mission at Ramstein includes flying with our European partners. According to Bartron, the C-130J Super Hercules mission overlaps into building partner coalitions through flying with the African air forces and teaching them important airlift skills.
"We spend a lot of time in other countries building that relationship," said Parritt. "Since I’ve been in Europe, I have seen 36 countries and the list keeps growing. With the newer ‘J’ model, everyone wants to see it. It's endless."
According to Parritt, sharing mission scope with other countries strengthens allied bonds. Bringing this aircraft to Farnborough accomplishes just that.
"It's great to show all the different things we can do," said Bartron. "Every day you are doing something different, flying to different places and learning new things. With a fighter jet the public will only get to look inside the cockpit or sit in it if you're lucky, but it is a different experience to walk inside a cargo plane."
According to Bartron, air shows are a great opportunity to see what aircraft different countries are flying. The sheer size of the cargo bay with the C-130J Super Hercules and the equipment that can be carried is what spectators are interested in seeing.
“The C-130J does the job and is an excellent aircraft,” said Alan Key, an aviation journalist. “Nearly every major air force in the world has them or will have them.”
"We still seem to be surprising a lot of people on what we can do," said Parritt. "I am proud to know that we can fly any aircraft anywhere in the world at a moment's notice."
The C-130J Super Hercules is on static display until noon daily and will perform flying demonstrations in the afternoons for the duration of the 2010 Farnborough International Air Show.