"The C-130 is whatever is needed. It's an ambulance, it's a gunship, it drops paratroopers, it carries cargo, it's a TV broadcast system, it's launched drones, and caught satellites. You name it, the Hercules has done it at some point in its career."
Jeff Rhodes, Lockheed Martin historian
“The Most Successful Military Aircraft Ever.”
Loren Thompson, Forbes
When Scott Bateman first walked into an RAF recruiting office, aged 18, little did he know that it would be the beginning of a lifelong love affair; not with the glamourous search and rescue helicopters that had fascinated him as a child, but with a decidedly unglamourous hulk of an aircraft, the transporter plane known as Hercules.
For the next eighteen years, rising from Aircrew Cadet ranks to Flight Lieutenant, Scott learned first-hand what an amazing machine he was privileged to fly in, and which saw him through missions which criss-crossed the globe, as part of the famous (and, in some quarters, infamous) 47 Squadron, the only RAF squadron to fly under its own flag, and whose mission is sans peur – without fear.
In their aircraft of choice, 47 Squadron could not have been better equipped. The first Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transporter rolled off the production line in 1954 and has been continuously in service across the globe ever since. Affectionately known by its crews as ‘Fat Albert’, the Hercules has been the mainstay of the RAF’s air transport fleet for well over half a century, serving UK interests from the lowlands of Ethiopia through to the treacherous mountains of Afghanistan.
Seen by many as the removals van of the RAF, in reality the Hercules is a peerless chameleon; an immensely adaptable tactical platform that can deliver special forces and equipment to any point on the globe within 24 hours - and has done so on countless occasions.
To commemorate the decommissioning of Hercules in 2023, Scott Bateman will tell the tales of some of the plane’s most iconic moments: ingeniously dropping food ‘bombs’ to the starving in Ethiopia, parachuting James Bond onto the Rock of Gibraltar, and lowering special forces onto the QE2 after a bomb threat.
But this incredible aircraft has earned its formidable reputation mostly in the theatre of war. Deployed in both Gulf wars, Afghanistan, The Balkans and the Falklands, the ‘Herc’ has been crucial to the success of almost every military operation since it first entered service. From being able to deliver 128 troops to the frontline, airdrop 16 tons of equipment, to evacuating 90 stretchered patients from the battlefield, it has, literally, supported and facilitated every element of the modern battlefield.
And while the aircraft itself has continued to evolve and diversify, one thing remains constant - the love and affection it commands in those privileged to have flown it, from the early test pilots who risked their lives putting it through its paces, to the servicemen and women, many rightly decorated for their valour, who, in Hercules, will be sharing their incredible stories: tales of adversity overcome, of exceptional bravery, and, in some cases, of tragedy, and the loss of cherished friends. Because while Hercules is a tribute to a world-renowned aircraft, it’s also a celebration of its extraordinary crews.
Lynne Barrett-Lee was born in London and became a fulltime writer shortly after moving to Cardiff in 1994. She is the author of ten novels, including her acclaimed debut, Julia Gets a Life, and Barefoot in the Dark, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance. Her novels have been translated into several languages and she has also contributed two titles (one ghostwritten for television presenter Fiona Phillips) to the UK’s Quick Reads Campaign, which provides easy-to-read books for adult emergent readers.
Most recently, Lynne has returned to h...
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Born and raised in a small village in Scotland and now based in the West Country where he lives with his wife and adult children, Scott Bateman has been a professional aviator for all of his adult life, starting out as an Air Loadmaster on C-130’s in the RAF and continuing now with state-of-the-art airliners. Scott had always aspired to become a pilot, and after being selected in 1997 and training in Lincolnshire, he returned to his metaphorical home and the C-130 but now as a pilot. After 3-years, Scott became a Captain on the aircraft and stayed in that role before being selected fo...
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