“Fat Albert” C-130 Retires From Blue Angel Duties

posted in: Jet Teams, Popular Posts | 17
US Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert

The current “Fat Albert” has flown her last show.

Of course, “Fat Albert” is the name given to the C-130 Hercules transport assigned to the famous US Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron. Their current C-130T aircraft (BuNo 164763) has had numerous issues in recent years and saw extended periods of down time for maintenance along with a fleet-wide safety stand down.

Although the airframe returned to the team, they have not regularly performed the traditional airshow demonstration with it. The common assumption is that they were trying to extend the lifetime of the aircraft in the face of an uncertain or extended replacement schedule.

Unfortunately, it seems that 164763 finally hit the end of the road, and was flown for the final time from Pensacola, the team’s home base, to Fort Worth for use as a ground trainer. This means that the team will almost certainly revert to borrowing a regular gray-painted C-130 for the near future. When this happens, the fill-in aircraft is referred to as “Ernie”, and because of structural differences it is not used for airshow demonstrations.

The team will now have even more of a reason to look forward to the previously discussed acquisition of an ex-Royal Air Force C-130J to serve as the new permanent Fat Albert. Once the new aircraft arrives, the Marine Corps crew should again be able to show off what the old (new) girl can do!

Add your photos, videos, and memories of Bert in our forums, and be sure to check out our airshow calendar to find airshows and aviation events near you, including where the Blue Angels will be performing this year!

Update: The Blue Angels have posted their own tribute to Bert, pointing out how long the aircraft has served with the team.

It’s a bittersweet day for us as we say our final farewell to our venerable C-130T, Fat Albert.

Fat Albert has served the Blue Angels honorably the past 17 years, flown more than 30,000 hours in support of our mission, and represented the United States Marine Corps to millions of fans.

This current airframe, BUNO 164763, has been with the team since 2002, and was the last C-130 to conduct a jet-assisted take-off (JATO).

While this may come as a shock to many of our fans, we have known this day was coming. The team will be transported via Fleet-provided logistics, until a permanent replacement aircraft is identified. Fat Albert will enjoy her retirement as a ground-based training aid in Fort Worth, Texas.

17 Responses

  1. Damon Duran

    WOW, I thought it had gone thru refurbishment semi recently….and to retire it as a ground trainer… Sad.
    I rode on her a number of years ago….awesome experience!!!

  2. Mike Wendelin

    No structural differences between the gray version and Fat Albert. Fat Albert was given to the Blues by the Navy Reserve VR community. From the same lot of aircraft the VR community has now, they just don’t want the loaner abused. I flew into Hill AFB with a VR C-130 and Fat Albert was there getting worked on. I said to the technician “we want our airplane back” she said “You don’t want that airplane…” meaning it was beat….

    • D Paoli

      I knew her a Nola Belle. It was the second aircraft off the the Lockheed line going to VR-54. The first was 164762 “Dixie Belle” Nola Belle had a ground mishap in about 1993 and spent about 5 months in the hangar getting the flight station rebuilt.

    • Jeremy

      if they were the AF, maybe… But Marines don’t fly the C-17

  3. Bobby

    She should go to Pcola to the Navy museum where she belongs!!!

  4. Stephen Barber

    JATO(jet assisted takeoff) Not. It was RATO, rocket assisted take off. It was discontinued as part of the airshow routine because they ran out of the solid rockets used for the assisted take off.And the rockets were no longer being produced.Sad to see the old bird go but nothing lasts forever. Agreed it should go to NAS Pensacola.

  5. Bobby Hudson

    It’s a crying shame about the legendary “Fat Albert” being retired.Knowing what the Blue Angels are capable of, They’ll transition to another aircraft with greater capabilities. As for the f-18 Super Hornet, where is it and why no transition is possible at this time.
    Why transition to the new “bird” available: The F-19 VTOL the US,Navy & Marines are planning to use. Here’s to wishful thinking.

  6. Seward Stevens

    I was with VMR-216 at Sandpoint NAS Seattle 68,69-70….Flying boxcars…when it’s time to retire, it’s DEFINITELY time to retire!!!

  7. David Boyle

    Why isn’t she going to the Museum in Pensacola? Seems only right!

  8. Robert Tinsley

    RIP …763, THE U.S. and the WORLD THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!!

  9. rick dugas

    this was a remarkable aircraft who if not for the outstanding maintenance would have retired a long time ago. this aircraft should be brought to the museum at Pensacola to be properly honored. worked on the AF version and it is one of the best aircraft ever built.

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