By Senior Airman Harry Brexel
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The C-130H has been a Herculean workhorse for the Air Force since it was first obtained in the mid-1970s.
Airmen from the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base have been training aircrews and maintenance on the basics of the C-130H airframe for more than a decade.
Air Force active-duty squadrons are transitioning from the older H-model aircraft to the newer J-model in the coming years. The 314th AW will focus on J-model training and the Arkansas Air National Guard will fully take over all future training of H-model students in less than three months.
The C-130J Super Hercules offers a variety of benefits over the legacy H-model. C-130Js fly faster, can carry more cargo, travel further and require a minimum crew of three instead of five due to advanced computer technology.
Recently, the final H-model training flight for the 314th AW took flight. The mission involved maintenance students who were taught by active-duty instructors from the 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
Training for H-model pilots and loadmasters has already transitioned to Arkansas ANG Airmen and maintenance training is the last to be handed over completely.
Though the J-model is more advanced and has improved capabilities, some Airmen have mixed feelings about the transition.
“I grew up on the older H-models,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Elmore, a 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-130H dedicated crew chief. “It’s a sad day for me; the maintenance for these planes is more hands-on and these Hercs have more character.”
The remainder of active-duty 314th AMXS C-130H instructors will re-train to the C-130J, after training for Arkansas ANG members is complete.
“I’ll miss the old-school legacy models,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Manning, a 314th AMXS dedicated crew chief. “We now need to learn a whole new system, though it won’t be the first time transitioning to a new aircraft for most of us.”
Airmen from the 314th AMXS started advising Arkansas ANG instructors on H-model operations in October 2014 and will continue to do so for approximately another year.
“This is a great step for the Guard,” said Staff Sgt. David Rogers, a 189th Arkansas ANG crew chief. “It means bigger responsibility and a larger footprint for us.”
The 189th Airlift Wing has the largest C-130H fleet in the Air Force. Ongoing upgrades to the C-130H will add an additional 40,000 hours of flying time to the plane. The unit will have more than 20 of the legacy models and various ANG and Reserve units across the country will receive additional H-models.
While the book has closed on active-duty training of the legacy C-130s, the next chapter in the long history of C-130H instruction at Little Rock Air Force Base continues with the help of Airmen from the Arkansas ANG.