The HC-130P executed its final mission at the D-M flightline on Sept. 12.
The 79th Rescue Squadron, the only HC-130 squadron on D-M, will soon utilize the HC-130J for all future operations.
“The HC-130P aircraft being replaced are all 1960’s models,” said Capt. Nelson Willingham, 79th RQS pilot. “They’ve been worked hard for nearly 50 years and the Air Force needed a new, more capable aircraft. The HC-130J is the latest and greatest fixed-wing, personnel recovery asset.”
Davis-Monthan is scheduled to begin flying the HC-130J in October.
“Some of the new features on the J-model include a glass cockpit and a more capable sensor-suite, which will give us a much greater mission capability,” Willingham said. “It’s a brand-new aircraft, so it will be much more reliable than our old models.”
The crew took the HC-130P out for roughly seven hours of flight. Upon landing, they were greeted by squadron and family members out on the flightline.
“It’s an honor for me to be one of the last HC-130P pilots to fly out of Davis-Monthan,” said Capt. David Lendhart, 79th RQS instructor pilot and the co-pilot of the HC-130P’s last flight. “It’s the start of the transition to the new J-model and I’m glad to be a part of it. The J-model looks like it’s going to bring a lot of capabilities to the fight. The sensor alone is leaps and bounds ahead of what we had with the P-model.”
Capt. Lendhart and Lt. Col. Christopher McCarthy, 563rd Rescue Group instructor pilot and the aircraft commander on the HC-130P’s last flight, took their last flights as pilots in the U.S. Air Force in the HC-130P.
“I have flown this plane now for 11 years, so for it to be my last flight in the Air Force and the P-model’s last flight here at Davis-Monthan was pretty special,” McCarthy said.
The HC-130 aircraft is used in support of all-weather personnel recovery capabilities to combatant commanders and joint coalition partners around the world.
“I got a chance to fly the J-model and I think it will be an amazing technological advancement,” McCarthy said. “As much as I love the P-model, it is older than I am. So I am excited for the young kids in rescue that get to develop how the field uses this new aircraft. The J is light-years ahead of the P. It will make our job easier and make us much more efficient as rescue pilots.”