Royal Canadian Air Force 8 Wing's 436 Transport Squadron marks milestone for CC-130J Hercules Though the air base's CC-130J Hercules fleet keeps being referred as new, the birds' air crews at 436 Squadron have been accumulating "air miles" since June 2010.
Nineteen months following the delivery of 130601 — the first out of 17 brand new tactical aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Georgia — long-time Hercules pilot and commanding officer of 436 Squadron, Lt.-Col. Colin Keiver, realized he had reached the young aircraft's air milestone of 5,000 flight-time hours while conducting a seven-and-a-half hour flight between Florida and Cold Lake, AB last Friday.
"I swear it was a coincidence," he said before some of his 34 pilots, dozens air crews, 250 aircraft maintainers and other squadron officials, during a ceremony marking the 436's accomplishment at hangar 10 Monday February 6th 2012.
"I was sitting there in the cockpit for more than seven hours that day, with not much to do and I came to think that we were flying the 5,000th hour at that very moment. It was very humbling, considering that our first J model was delivered just a bit over a year and a half ago."
Though 8 Wing's new tactical "workhorses" are fairly new to the sky, the 13 aircraft that are now being flown — Keiver and his personnel expect delivery of two more in March, one in April, and the last one in mid May — had their share of flight time during missions and operations. The fleet is regularly flown at a rhythm of six to seven aircraft per day in support of 436, its operational squadron, and its training's 426.
From helping the CF conclude its 10-year mission in Afghanistan last November, flying Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his northern tour last August, conducting the re-supplying mission Boxtop at Canadian Forces Station Alert in the Arctic last September, supporting CF's operations in Libya, conducting forest fire evacuations in northern Saskatchewan last spring, to soon providing air support to 1,500 CF's army troops who will be training during Arctic Ram in the Northwest Territories (Canada's biggest and most complex army-led exercise ever undertaken in the Canadian Arctic that will be held from Feb. 13-26), the CC-130Js have delivered.
"With the close-out of Op Athena in Afghanistan and the cessation of 10 years of continuous C-130H model operation in the country, the final aircraft that departed did so by completing our fleet's first round-the-world trip through 436's birthplace in India, followed by a visit to South-East Asia and the Pacific," said Keiver, who personally logged in about 250 hours on the J, and more than 4,000 on it's older brother, the H model.
Capt. Robert McIntosh landed at the "Canucks Unlimited" just a few months before the first J model was delivered on June 4, 2010. Since then, the North-Bay native is one of 436's 34 pilots who's helped the aircraft reach the air-miles milestone the most by registering roughly 500 hours of flight time.
Staring Feb. 13, McIntosh — along with loadmaster Sgt. Stephen Miller, and 23 of their fellow airmen from Canucks Unlimited — will add a few more hours to the aircraft's record by serving as Canada's workhorses of the north during Arctic Ram in the Northwest Territories.
"I have flown the Js in High Arctic a few times, around Canada and the United States, and did a four-month tour in Afghanistan last summer," said McIntosh.
"This air support operation (Arctic Ram) will not be much different than any other deployment mission we usually take part in. Cold weather flying is different because the aircraft tends to behave a little bit different in the cold, but overall Yellowknife cold is not different than Iqaluit cold, and this aircraft handles it perfectly."
Both McIntosh and his boss Keiver agree on the Js' performance and reliability. The two said they love flying the aircraft — preferring it to the old Hs.
"We get about 20 per cent more power with the Js, the same cargo capacity, and we save about the same amount in fuel," said Keiver. "It allows the CF and the government of Canada to conduct the same missions, but with the same crews and it does it better.
"Before we used to worry about oil temperature and things like that. With this one we don't care so much about that because technologies have improved and it's like the aircraft tells us when there are reasons to be worried."
The 424 Transport Search and Rescue Tiger Squadron may be next in line to help the J models earn more CF air miles. Search and rescue crews are still counting on a "good old" specially-configured H model to support them during rescue missions.
"I cannot speculate on the government's plans in replacing those search and rescue aircraft," said Keiver. "Right now, the government and the air force have different plans in their books, and different than for us here in transport, to replace the search and rescue fleet."
Source: The Intelligencer, Jerome Lessard
Gravity always wins!