C-130 Hercules Introduces New ‘Reindeer’ Variant

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Santa’s got a new reindeer … and it answers to ‘Hercules’

 
Santa recently recruited a new member to his team of reindeer— and this new addition looked less like Rudolph and more like the iconic C-130 Hercules affectionately known as “Fat Albert.”

Fat Albert is the C-130 support aircraft operated by the U.S. Navy Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. Manned by an all U.S. Marine Corps crew, Fat Albert arrived at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ Marietta, Ga., site on Monday, Dec. 3, to pick up a special delivery of two pallets of toys that were delivered later in the day to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey to support Toys for Tots organizations and families impacted by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey and New York.  Fat Albert also made a stop in Washington, D.C., at Ronald Reagan National Airport to pick up more toys, where Lockheed Martin employees were on hand to greet the plane.

This is the third year that Lockheed Martin Aeronautics employees have supported this mission, which was initiated by the Blue Angels.  Toys loaded on the pallets were both donated by employees and purchased by Lockheed Martin on behalf of all Aeronautics employees. About 900 toys weighing more than 3,000 lbs. were donated to Toys for Tots, with about half estimated to have some STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) component to support Lockheed Martin’s corporate focus on supporting STEM education.

This holiday mission started in 2010, when the Blue Angels collected two pallets of toys from Lockheed Martin employees in Marietta and two additional pallets at the Aeronautics headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. That year, toys were delivered to families in New Orleans and along the Gulf coast, two areas negatively impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Toys were once again picked up in Marietta and Fort Worth in 2011, but delivered to Birmingham, Ala., to support families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by a surge of deadly tornados hitting that region earlier in the year.

Supporting this mission is a natural — and in some ways historic — fit.  Toys for Tots was started in 1947 by U.S. Marine Maj. William Hendricks, a reservist whose civilian job was in public relations for Warner Brother Studios. Four years later, literally blocks away from the Warner film lot, a design team developed the C-130.

Since then, both the C-130 and Toys for Tots have really delivered. More than 2,400 C-130s have been built for the U.S. and customers all over the world, while the Marines have delivered more than half-a-billion toys to children each holiday season.

The Blue Angels also have a long history with Lockheed Martin. The team has flown a C-130 as its support aircraft since the early 1970s. While the Blue Angels are known for flying aerobatics in fighter jets, Fat Albert is a celebrity in its own right. Painted in the team’s trademark navy blue, white and gold colors, Fat Albert wows air show audiences with its own performances during the year. The current Fat Albert was built in Marietta and delivered to the U.S. Navy as a C-130T in 1988.

See more photos from the event >>

Posted Dec. 4, 2012