U.S. Marine Corps C-130 “Fat Albert”
One airplane in the Blue Angels fleet gets its own billing, and it isn’t one of the supersonic Hornet jets. It’s “Fat Albert”, a U.S. Marine Corps C-130 Hercules airlifter. Fat Albert is the team’s support plane, but it flies its own solo performance at air shows, demonstrating the surprising nimbleness of the four-turboprop transport.
Fat Albert is best known for its fiery Jet-Assisted Take-Off (JATO) performance. Eight solid fuel JATO rocket bottles, each producing 1,000 pounds of thrust, helped propel Fat Albert skyward and captivated millions of spectators each year, starting in 1975. These JATO bottles were made to help heavy aircraft take off from short, unimproved runways. The Blue Angels used up the last known stockpile of JATO bottles in their 2009 show season.
Flying Fat Albert is Marine Corps Maj. John Hecker, a native of New Orleans. He joined the Blue Angels in 2010.
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