Fat Albert will enjoy her retirement as a ground-based training aid in Fort Worth, Texas.
May 23, 2019 has been a bittersweet day for the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, as they said their final farewell to their venerable C-130T, Fat Albert.
Fat Albert has served the Blue Angels honourably the past 17 years, flown more than 30,000 hours in support of their mission, and represented the United States Marine Corps (USMC) 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 Blue Angels fans, the team knew this day was coming. The Blue Angels 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.
As we have previously reported, the U.S. Navy announced in March 2018 its intention to replace the USMC KC-130T assigned to the Blue Angels demonstration team with a C-130J from the Royal Air Force (RAF).
A single-source contract would be executed between the Naval Air Systems Command and the U.K. Ministry of Defense.
“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 contract notice stated.
The contract notice also claimed that purchasing a C-130J cargo aircraft from any source other than the U.K. Ministry of Defense “would create an unacceptable increase in program cost and delay in fielding this critical capability.”
But apparently there is still no contract signed for the hand-over. And the Blues are quite tight-lipped about this possible new aircraft.
The following video, taken on Oct. 3, 2009 during Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar Twilight Air Show features Fat Albert performing one of its last ever JATO.
Photo credit: Imjeffp (Own work) via Wikipedia