HC-130J Combat King Looks to Heavy to Fly, Nails the Job

There was a time long ago when people believed nothing that was heavier than air could fly. Wilbur and Orville Wright proved all those people wrong, and humanity has been traveling the skies of our planet for more than 100 years now, riding heavy metal beasts.
HC-130J Combat King II 7 photos
Photo: USAF/Alejandro Peña
HC-130J Combat King IIHC-130J Combat King IIHC-130J Combat King IIHC-130J Combat King IIHC-130J Combat King IIHC-130J Combat King II
Yet there are things up there that really seem too heavy to fly. Contraptions so massive it makes one wonder if what they see is real, and question everything they learned during physics class.

The HC-130J Combat King II is one of those things. In essence the Air Force (USAF) variant of the Lockheed HC-130, the plane came into service in the 1950s, and is presently described by the USAF as the only dedicated fixed-wing Personnel Recovery platform.

The main mission of the mammoth machine is to rapidly deploy and perform missions of “airdrop, airland, helicopter air-to-air refueling, and forward area ground refueling,” even from austere airfields and denied territory.

Powered by four Rolls Royce turboprop engines, the plane has enough muscle to lift a total of 164,000 pounds (74,389 kilograms) at takeoff, and fly at speeds that can reach 364 mph (586 kph) for as much as 4,000 miles (6,437 km) and at altitudes of about 33,000 feet (10,000 meters).

So yes, despite looking massive, like in the main photo of this piece, the Combat King has no issues taking to the sky.

The pic you’re looking at now (click main photo to enlarge) shows a Combat King II deployed with the Alaska Air National Guard 211th Rescue Squadron. The image was captured shortly after the plane had taken off from an unpaved landing strip at Malemute Drop Zone at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

The squadron was performing a training exercise there meant to get them accustomed to “operate in austere locations with unfinished or shorter runways.”
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other HC-130J Combat King IIs.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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