April 6, 2009 (by Capt. John Ross) - Tail number 8601, the first J-model C-130 aircraft built for the 86th Airlift Wing, departed Marietta, Ga., March 30 to begin a four-leg flight overseas to Ramstein Air Base.
USAF C-130J 08-8601 of the 37th AS, the first of 14 C-130J Super Hercules aircraft bound for Ramstein AB over the next 12 months, is marshaled to the runway Monday to depart the Lockheed Martin Plant in Marietta, Georgia. [Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin]
Gen. Roger Brady, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, was on hand at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Plant to officially accept ownership of the new Super Hercules on behalf of the 86th AW.
"There are several thousand people at the 86th Airlift Wing this morning who are looking forward to this airplane arriving in a couple of days," he said to an all-hands meeting of Lockheed employees. "We've looked forward to it for a long time."
General Brady, with the support of aircrew members and a maintenance team from the 86th, later took the controls of the aircraft and departed the facility to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The new aircraft is also scheduled to stop at Pepperrell Air Force Base in Newfoundland, Canada; Naval Air Station Keflevic, Iceland; and Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, before arriving at Ramstein.
On April 7 the Super Hercules is scheduled to land on-station at Ramstein for the first time during a ceremony held not only to honor the arrival of the new aircraft, but also the new era in operations for the 86th AW. The J model provides approximately 20 percent improvement over previous C-130 models in speed, fuel efficiency, cargo capacity and altitude capabilities.
Thirteen additional J-model aircraft are scheduled to make the same journey from Marietta over the next twelve months, rounding out a completely new fleet operated by the 37th Airlift Squadron.
Sidebar: Arrival ceremony Tuesday for new J-model
Ramstein will welcome its newest team member, the C-130J Super Hercules, in an arrival ceremony held on Ramstein's Ramp 1 Apr. 7 at 3 p.m.
The festivities will include a ribbon cutting for a new 68,000 square feet dual-bay maintenance hangar, which can hold two C-130J aircraft or one C-17.
The ceremony will be an alternate-duty location for Team Ramstein members, who are also encouraged to bring their families to witness the historic event.
"The Super Hercules brings with it a new age of tactical airlift in Europe," said Lt. Col. Stuart Weinberger, C-130J Program Integration Office chief. "The capabilities of this aircraft will make big changes in how we do things around here."
Several distinguished visitors will speak at the event, including Gen. Roger Brady, U.S. Air Forces Europe commander, Lt. Gen. Phil Breedlove, 3rd Air Force commander, Brig. Gen. Bill Bender, 86th Airlift Wing commander, and Col. Don Bacon, 435th Air Base Wing commander.
An open reception after the ceremony will be catered by Urban Catering of Kaiserslautern, and all in attendance will receive souvenirs.
Entrance on base can be made from the east gate. Parking will be available on Ramp 6 at the northeast corner of the airfield.