Blue Angels Preparing Fat Albert For Return To Airshows This Summer

posted in: Jet Teams | 2

US Navy Blue Angels - C-130 Hercules Fat Albert

Could Fat Albert, the US Navy Blue Angels’ C-130 transport, return to airshows soon? There are several indications that say yes!

During an interview with NewsRadio1620 on May 30th, Commander Doyle (Blue Angel #1) said that the team is working on getting the current Fat Albert repaired and operational – potentially in time for the Pensacola Beach airshow, traditionally held in July. This year’s show will be held July 11-14th.

The road to get Bert flying again has been a long one. Fat Albert and the rest of the Marine Corps C-130T Hercules fleet has been grounded since the 2017 crash of a C-130 in Mississippi that killed all 16 service members onboard. Before that, Bert missed airshows while undergoing an extensive overhaul. Ironically, she returned to shows at the Pensacola Beach airshow in 2017.

We’ve also seen some pictures posted recently on social media that lead us to believe Bert will be back to flying status soon.

The potential return of Bert to flying status isn’t the only interesting thing going on with the famous blue and gold C-130. In March, we wrote about a government contract that solicited a Royal Air Force C-130J to replace Bert. Not many details have come out about the potential acquisition of the airframe to replace the current C-130T model.

AirshowStuff has reached out to the Blue Angels for comment on this.

Blue Angels Look To Royal Air Force For Replacement Fat Albert Aircraft

posted in: Jet Teams | 3

Blue Angels Look to RAF for C-130J

“Fat Albert” could soon be traveling with the Blue Angels, thanks in part to the Royal Air Force.

FBO.gov, the Federal Government’s Contracting website posted a contract notice looking for an urgent replacement for the Blue’s current Bert.

The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) intends to negotiate and award a sole source contract with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MOD), Whitehall, London, United Kingdom for the procurement of one (1) C-130J under the authority of FAR 6.302-1, “Only One Responsible Source and No Other Supplies or Services Will Satisfy Agency Requirements.” The Government requires a suitable replacement aircraft, which must be delivered in an expeditious manner, to avoid a gap in logistical support of the Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron. The aircraft being procured from the UK MOD has the requisite amount of life and technical capability to support the Blue Angels mission.

The Blue Angels have been without their famous “Fat Albert” since last summer, when the crash of a KC-130T aircraft grounded the fleet. The Navy and Marine Corp’s fleet of aircraft remain grounded. Recently, the Blue Angels announced new pilots for Fat Albert.

The Royal Air Force currently has a surplus of C-130J models that have been placed in storage.

The acquisition of a new C-130 for the Blue Angels brings several benefits to the squadron. First, it permanently fills a gap left by their current aircraft being grounded. In recent seasons, the team has had to rely on trucks or borrowing a KC-130T (mainly when Bert was undergoing maintenance) to fly in Bert’s place. The second thing a new aircraft offers is a chance to potentially change Bert’s routine.

No timeline has been given for this replacement aircraft, but the fact one is potentially coming is a step forward in this saga of trouble for Bert. Hopefully we’ll see her flying in the skies at an airshow soon!

Add your thoughts on this surprising news in our forums!

See the Blue Angels 2018 schedule

Information from TheDrive.com contributed to this story

New USAF Exercise “Mobility Guardian” Exceeds Expectations

posted in: Event Recap, Military | 0

C-17 Globemaster IIIs Joint Base Lewis-McChord Exercise Mobility Guardian 2017

Air Mobility Command has restructured their biennial exercise, formerly known as Air Mobility Rodeo (which last took place in 2011), into a new mission-focused exercise called Mobility Guardian. Originally a competitive event that challenged the best of United States Air Force and international teams in various mission-based competitions, Mobility Guardian has shifted to focus on training up new aircrews to be as versatile as other veteran forces. The event took place from July 31 to August 12, 2017 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, WA.

Fuerza Aérea Colombiana CASA 295 Mobility Guardian 2017Royal Australian Air Force RAAF KC-30 Voyager Tanker Mobility Guardian 2017

Mobility Guardian’s events are setup to be some of the most realistic, real-world, scenario-driven events AMC has undertaken yet. The exercise is designed to allow forces to develop and improve techniques and procedures that enhance air mobility operations and interoperability between US and allied forces. These include training for airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation, and mobility support missions. This becomes especially important given that whether the nation is at war or in peacetime, the mobility units are constantly at work helping either the war effort or humanitarian missions, if not both simultaneously.

Lockheed C-130 Hercules Mobility Guardian 2017

In an article by the 62nd Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Mobility Guardian Director Lt. Col. Daniel DeYoung said “Mobility Guardian provides us an opportunity to ‘train like we fight’ alongside our joint and international partners.” “It is a completely new exercise meant to enhance mobility partnerships and test the full spectrum of capabilities Air Mobility Command provides the nation.”

“Whereas Rodeo incentivized units to take their best performers from across the Air Force Specialty Code spectrum—operators, maintainers, medical and support Airmen—and give them extra ‘top-off’ training to prepare for the competition, Mobility Guardian participants will by design be the ‘average’ Airman, who will be tested to employ his or her skills to accomplish the mission laid out in the exercise scenario.”

Fuerza Aérea Colombiana CASA 295 Mobility Guardian 2017Fuerza Aérea Colombiana CASA 295 Medical Litter Mobility Guardian 2017

Numerous nations came to observe and participate in the launch of this new exercise, with a handful bringing their own aircraft. The Royal Canadian Air Force dedicated a pair of their CC-130J Super Hercules’, while the Pāk Fizāʾiyah (Pakistan Air Force/PAF), Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF), Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), and Luchtcomponent (Belgian Air Component) flew in their C-130 Hercules aircraft, and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) brought their C-17 Globemaster IIIs and an Airbus KC-30A Voyager. The Royal Air Force (RAF) and Armée de l’air (French Air Force) both brought their latest aircraft, the Airbus A400M Atlas. Participating AMC units flew their C-130s, C-130J-30s, C-17s, KC-10 Extenders, and KC-135 Stratotankers from JBLM.

Pakistan Air Force Lockheed C-130 Hercules Mobility Guardian 2017Royal Air Force Airbus A400M Atlas Mobility Guardian 2017

Other US military units participated in the aerial refueling training. Those include A-10 Thunderbolt IIs of the 124th Fighter Wing, Gowen Field Air National Guard Base, Idaho; US Navy E/A-18G Growlers of VA-129, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.; F-15C Eagles of the 142nd FW, Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon; F-16C Fighting Falcons and F-35 Lightning IIs assigned to Hill AFB, Utah; F-15E Strike Eagles of Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and Air Force Global Strike Command B-2 Spirit and B-52 Stratofortress bombers.

According to Team McChord’s summary article, aircrews flew roughly 1,200 hours in eight days, finishing nearly 650 sorties. Tanker aircraft offloaded roughly 1.2 million pounds of fuel, aerial port personnel processed 3,676 passengers and 4,911 tons of equipment; and crews airdropped 356 paratroopers, 33 heavy platforms and nearly 300 Container Delivery System bundles.

We’d like to thank Air Mobility Command, the 62nd Airlift Wing, and Capt. Jacob Bailey for allowing us to come and tour the exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Heads Up Display (HUD) in the cockpit of Royal Air Force Airbus A400M Atlas Mobility Guardian 2017

Fat Albert Grounded As Part Of C-130T Safety Stand Down, Not Expected To Appear In Oshkosh

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

US Navy Blue Angels - C-130 Hercules Fat Albert

Fat Albert is grounded once again. All KC-130T Hercules aircraft, used by the Marine Corps, have been grounded as a precaution after a KC-130 crashed earlier this month in Louisiana, killing 16. This includes Fat Albert, the support aircraft of the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team that is performing at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh this weekend. Unfortunately she is not expected to fly in to Oshkosh or perform in the show. The team’s F/A-18 Hornets will still perform as planned.

Bert actually remains on the ground in Idaho Falls, ID, where the team performed last weekend. A US Navy C-40 Clipper (737) flew in to Oshkosh to deliver the team’s support staff and some equipment. There is no word on how long the stand down will last, but it indicates that there are concerns stemming from the crash that require further analysis. Fat Albert returned to airshows from a nearly year-long overhaul earlier this month.

EAA initially announced (and later reaffirmed) that all C-130s in the US military were grounded, but this was later proven to be false. Although we updated our posts as more information became available, we apologize for any confusion due to what should have been a reliable source.

Fat Albert Returns To Airshows!

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 3

US Navy Blue Angels C-130 Hercules Fat Albert

Fat Albert, the Blue Angels C-130 Hercules transport will return to the skies this week for the first airshow demonstration since her maintenance overhaul. Bert will fly in the annual Pensacola Beach Airshow, slated for June 8th. Practice day is Friday, June 7th.

Late last summer, Fat Albert was grounded for the end of the airshow season, missing the popular shows at NAS Oceana, MCAS Miramar, and Fleet Week in San Francisco. During the overhaul, Bert underwent a complete inspection and received a new paint job!

Maj. Mark Hamilton, Maj. Mark Montgomery and Maj. Kyle Maschner will be the pilots of Fat Albert for the 2017 airshow season. Fat Albert is always flown by an all Marine crew.

Don’t remember the Fat Albert routine? We’ve got you covered! Check out this video of a full Fat Albert demonstration at the 2016 Lynchburg Airshow in Lynchburg, VA.

Once you’ve watched that, watch from INSIDE Fat Albert!

Fat Albert Is Ready To Roll: Maintenance Complete!

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Fat Albert Completes Maintenance at Hill AFB

The Blue Angels’ C-130T Hercules, affectionately known as “Fat Albert” is ready to return to the team after undergoing a maintenance overhaul at Hill AFB! Fat Albert crew members went to Hill AFB recently to check out Bert and take delivery of the aircraft. Bert had been at Hill for several months after a chemical de-paint process was performed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. This process allowed for the removal of the paint to check for any corrosion on the aircraft.

In May, we reported that Bert (minus the famous Blue and Gold paint) was undergoing test flights over Hill AFB.

At Hill, Bert underwent a complete programmed depot maintenance checkout and got a new coat of paint to get airshow ready!

Fat Albert Completes Maintenance at Hill AFB

Fat Albert has been missing from the team’s aerial demonstrations since mid-2016. While Bert was undergoing maintenance, the team borrowed another C-130, always known as Ernie, and the popular airshow demonstrations were not performed. Now that the work is complete, the pilots will begin practicing the airshow routine and finally bring Bert back to the airshow circuit. At this time, we don’t know when during the 2017 season Bert will return to aerial demonstrations with the team, but stay tuned for more updates!

Fat Albert Completes Maintenance at Hill AFBFat Albert Completes Maintenance at Hill AFB
Fat Albert Completes Maintenance at Hill AFBFat Albert Completes Maintenance at Hill AFB

“Naked” Fat Albert Returns To Flying Following Major Overhaul

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"Naked" Fat Albert Takes Flight After Overhaul

One of our fans sent in these photos of Fat Albert looking decidedly naked a few days ago. The Blue Angels’ famous C-130 Hercules has been undergoing major repairs at Hill AFB in Utah for months, but the aircraft is clearly airworthy again, and we’re told new blue, gold, and white paint is being applied this week. That’s surely a good sign!

"Naked" Fat Albert Takes Flight After Overhaul

Bert was previously expected to resume airshow demonstrations by now, but the latest rumors put the return to performing in early June. Although the aircraft is flying and being readied for its return to service, the all-Marine crew will need to complete their annual training before performing. In the mean time, they have been borrowing a standard KC-130, known as “Ernie”, to fulfill the team’s transportation needs.

Photo credit: Photos by DOPEY

Fat Albert Loses Famous Blue Angel Paint Scheme As Part Of Maintenance Overhaul

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US Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert C-130 Hercules - Paint Stripped
Photo Credit: Tinker AFB

Fat Albert has lost the famous blue and gold colors of the Blue Angels as part of a maintenance overhaul currently underway. The aircraft was flown to Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, where crews worked in three shifts to remove the famous paint scheme and check for corrosion. The base Facebook page posted a photo of this work in progress, and today another photo was posted by the Fat Albert Twitter account showing the end result; a naked Bert!

US Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert C-130 Hercules - Paint Stripped
Photo Credit: FatAlbertUSMC

As you can see, only the bright yellow nose remains. The aircraft will be flown to Hill AFB in Utah for major maintenance and repair work. Indications are that severe corrosion is behind the effort that will keep Fat Albert grounded for the rest of the 2016 airshow season. In the mean time, the team will fly a regular ‘fleet’ C-130 for transportation and logistics, but will likely not perform in it.

Blue Angels’ Fat Albert Will Reportedly Not Fly Again Until After 2016 Airshow Season

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 10

US Navy Blue Angels - C-130 Hercules Fat Albert

Fat Albert, the famous C-130 Hercules that serves as the transport for the US Navy Blue Angels, appears to be done flying for the season. As we reported last week, Bert was forced to miss the Seattle Seafair airshow this past weekend due to unspecified maintenance issues, and unconfirmed reports began circulating that it would not be back to flying status any time soon. A tweet by one of the three Fat Albert pilots, USMC Captain Katie Higgins, seems to confirm the news. She mentions that Bert is in depot-level maintenance, and that she will not fly that airframe (164763) again during her time with the team.

The team will likely utilize a normal Marine Corps KC-130 for its transportation needs for the remainder of the season, but it remains to be seen whether that aircraft will perform in shows or not. From what we have heard, it seems doubtful. This puts a further damper on the current Blue Angels performance that remains a five-jet routine following the crash of Blue Angel #6, Captain Jeff Kuss, earlier this year. The sixth jet will rejoin the performances once Commander Frank Weisser is fully proficient in the routine.

We have reached out to the Blue Angels for comments and official confirmation. In the mean time, those needing their Fat Albert fix can take a ride in the cockpit during an airshow flight earlier this year:

US Navy Blue Angels’ Fat Albert To Skip 2016 Seattle Seafair For Maintenance

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams | 0

US Navy Blue Angels - Fat Albert

The US Navy Blue Angels’ famous C-130 Hercules transport known as “Fat Albert” or “Bert” will not be performing with the team in Seattle this weekend. The team, which arrived in the area yesterday, announced that due to mechanical issues the aircraft will have to undergo maintenance instead of making the trip. Bert is operated by an all-Marine crew and serves to transport the team’s equipment and personnel to each show site. Traditionally when Fat Albert is down for any reason, the Angels’ transport needs are met with a standard fleet C-130 that is dubbed “Ernie”. The Seattle Seafair airshow will still showcase the five F/A-18 Hornets of the team, which performs at the event every year. Hopefully Fat Albert will be back soon!

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