Special Forces transports get down in the dirt

The USAF operates several dozen Lockheed Hercules MC-130J Commando II aircraft, to transport special forces to and from their operations, refuel associated aircraft in mid-air, and other tasks outside the normal transport function.

Recently a formation of four MC-130J’s made several passes through the Mach Loop in Britain, a well-known plane-spotting area where military aircraft of all types practice low-level penetration of enemy airspace.  Courtesy of The Aviationist, here it is.

The pilots were clearly enjoying themselves, but I can’t help wonder how difficult it was to fly that low.  A big transport reacts a lot more slowly than a nimble jet fighter or strike aircraft.  If they were a split-second late in responding to the aircraft’s movements, it would be all too easy to fly the plane into the ground – not the sort of landing from which one can walk away!



  1. I was driving across Northern New Mexico just after sunset when a B-1 made a low pass over I-40, then pulled into a knife edge turn (that's when I recognized the shape of the B-1) Obviously practicing low level interdiction. It did startle me; however, I wasn't expecting to have to (seemingly) avoid hitting an aircraft.

  2. I miss watching the OV-10s, A-7s and A-10s playing over the surf off of Patrick AFB in Florida. Amazing watching airline pilots in A-7s outfly A-10 pilots.

  3. That wasn't 500 its, but those big lumbering grapes are hard to fly low, and even harder to fly low in formation. Lots of turbulence behind them for sure.

  4. Actually, the agility of the Herky birds is legendary; the ANG pilots doing brushfire retardant dump demos in the 1960s proved that at annual SoCal airshows that I saw many times.

    They don't have fighter agility, to be sure, but those big turboprops have the torque down low to do some unreal maneuvers as a matter of course.

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