March 24, 2015 (by RNZAF) - Hercules #NZ7001 turned 50, March 24 and is spending her birthday doing what she has so often done before - delivering aid in the Pacific.
RNZAF C-130H #NZ7001 from 40 Sqn at RIAT 2004. [Photo by Asif Shamim]
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) C-130 #NZ7001
was the first of five C-130s which arrived at RNZAF Base Auckland in Whenuapai in 1965. Since then, the C-130 has been at the forefront of many New Zealand Defence Force operations, missions and exercises.
The hard-working C-130 flew out of Whenuapai on Sunday morning with aid for Tuvalu and picked up more in Suva. After delivering that cargo to Tuvalu, she returned to Suva for the night.
Yesterday, she took three pallets of medical supplies and 40 Fijian soldiers to Port Vila in Vanuatu and returned to Suva for a second night.
Today she flies to Port Vila again with more Fijian support and relief supplies before returning to Whenuapai, where she is expected to land around 8pm tonight.
There is no official birthday party for NZ7001 but 40 Squadron personnel will welcome her home in style.
40 Squadron Commanding Officer (CO) Squadron Leader Steve Thornley said that it was a great privilege to be CO on such an occasion.
“In the 50 years these amazing aircraft have served New Zealand, they have spanned the globe supporting everything you could expect of an air transport aircraft, both in peace time and on active operations,” he said.
“This month alone we have seen C-130s delivering aid, supporting NZDF personnel in the Middle East and moving an elephant for Auckland Zoo. It is this sort of utility that keeps these aircraft in such high demand all over the world and is a testament to both the quality of design and the commitment of those that work on them that the first of our fleet of five has reached this milestone.
“As for the birthday celebrations, they will be short-lived as our maintenance team turn her around for another mission to Vanuatu tomorrow,” he said.
To celebrate the 50 year milestone, specially designed tail art has been installed on NZ7001 which she will wear for the coming twelve months.