The U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron has performed their first functional check flight (FCF) in new C-130J ‘Fat Albert’ aircraft, the squadron announced.
Blue Angels C-130 pilots arrived in UK last month to conduct a series of maintenance tests, which include an aircraft systems operational check out and the functional check flight, prior to completing the transatlantic flight to the United States.
Good Morning, #BAFans!
Your C-130 pilots and are currently performing their first functional check flight (FCF) in our new C-130J this morning over England!#BlueAngels #USMC #SemperFi #USNavy #ForgedByTheSea pic.twitter.com/z6tz9wonmS
— Blue Angels (@BlueAngels) July 20, 2020
Fat Albert serves as the Blue Angels’ Flight Demonstration Squadron (NFDS) logistical support aircraft. It takes part in the display team’s flying performances, as well as being a crucial support aircraft, carrying the Blue Angels’ tools, spare parts and engineers. “Fat Albert Airlines” was flown with an all-Marine crew of three officers and five enlisted personnel.
Beginning in 1975, “Bert” was also used for Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) and short aerial demonstrations just prior to the main event at selected venues, but the JATO demonstration ended in 2009 due to dwindling supplies of rockets.
The last dedicated Fat Albert, a C-130T Hercules, was retired May 2019 and now serves as a ground-based training platform in Fort Worth, Texas.
The new C-130J has a new livery compared to the C-130T ‘Fat Albert’ aircraft. The flight surfaces now have yellow tips, similar to Blue Angels’ F/A-18s, two stripes run down the side of the aircraft and the iconic white top has been changed to a tear drop design.
The C-130J model will provide improved logistics support to the squadron and will eventually join demonstration.