Retiring a Workhorse: C-130 makes its final flight


U.S. Coast Guard C-130H aircraft number 1503 is seen on the deck at the Aviation Logistic Center’s Heavy Maintenance Facility on Friday afternoon. The plane was flown in from Air Station Clearwater in Clearwater, Florida, where it had been based. The plane represents the last of the 1500 series aircraft in the Coast Guard inventory. The gold numbering also denotes the plane as the oldest C-130 used by the Coast Guard. The plane was flown to ALC to be retired, demilitarized and eventually destroyed.


By Chris Day
The Daily Advance

Saturday, June 22, 2019

After serving more than 40 years as a flying workhorse for the U.S. Coast Guard, C-130H number 1503 made its final flight on Friday.

The 1503 represented the last of the Coast Guard’s 1500 series C-130s. Commissioned in 1974, the plane was also the oldest H model in the Coast Guard’s inventory of C-130s. Near the nose of the airplane the number 1503 is displayed in gold, which indicates the plane’s seniority, said Chief Josh Sandel. The 1503 also was 13 hours shy of 30,000 total flight hours, Sandel said.

On Friday, a Coast Guard crew from the Aviation Logistics Center at Base Elizabeth City flew the 1503 to ALC, where it will be retired, demilitarized and eventually destroyed. It had been based at Air Station Clearwater, in Florida.

Sandel, who is an aviation maintenance technician assigned to ALC, said the crew flew another C130H aircraft to Clearwater to swap it out for the 1503. That plane was number 1702 and was originally assigned to Air Station Kodiak in Alaska. It was flown to ALC, where it underwent a brief maintenance period, before being turned over to Air Station Clearwater.

The 1702 now assumes the distinction as the oldest C-130 in the Coast Guard fleet, Sandel said. The 1700 series are now the only H models in use by the Coast Guard, Sandel said. The remainder of the service’s C130s are the more updated J models.

In the early 2000s the Coast Guard created the C130J Aircraft Project Office to assist in preparing the J models for use in the Coast Guard. The APO, which also was based in Elizabeth City, was decommissioned around 2008.

One of the crew members who flew the 1503 back to Elizabeth City on Friday was Petty Officer 1st Class Derrick Navarro.

Navarro, who’s also an aviation maintenance technician, has been in the Coast Guard 16 years and for 13 of those he’s been flying in C130H aircraft.

“They all fly the same,” he said, when asked if there were any flight characteristics that made the 1503 stand out from other H variants. “All the H models fly identical.”

“I am sad to see her go,” Navarro said, of the 1503 being retired.

Navarro, 42, also serves as the flight engineer aboard the H models. One of the more significant differences between the H and J models is that the J planes don’t require flight engineers, he said.

As the flight engineer aboard the H models, Navarro was responsible for monitoring the engines, hydraulics, electrical and other mechanical functions while the aircraft was airborne.

Navarro will soon be transferring to the Aviation Technical Training Center, also on Base Elizabeth City, where he’ll serve as an instructor for new enlisted aviation students.

Friday may well have been the last time Navarro served as a flight engineer aboard the H models. He enjoyed the flight from Clearwater, he said.

“It was beautiful,” he said, of the flying conditions. “I couldn’t ask for a better day to stop flying, so to say.”

Also among the crew that flew the 1503 back to the ALC were Cmdr. Michael Woodrum, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Faulkner, Chief Travis Williams, Petty Officer 1st Class Alex Lecher and Petty Officer 1st Class Craig McCrodden.