Texas ANG deploy to Europe

13/04/2023

Tracking up the East coast of the US on April 10th was a pair of Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules from the Texas Air National Guards 136th Airlift Wing. Both aircraft landed at St John's International Airport that day from their home base of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.  The 136th are nicknamed the 'Silver Eagles'. They operate 8 C-130Js.

On April 12th, one of those 2 departed St Johns with its final destination planned to be Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Rumours suggested that it may stop into Suffolk for fuel. Fortunately for me, it took the fuel stop and landed at RAF Lakenheath around 07:45 on April 13th. Unfortunately for me however, I was at Mildenhall at the time, under the assumption that it would land there. Feeling slightly deflated that I may have missed it, I hopped into the car and moved across to Lakenheath, more specifically Maidscross hill. The hope was that it would be visible in front of a pair of KC-46s on the heavy ramp. My luck peaked as I walked towards the fence and found it sat right in front of me. After years of waiting (and not much trying), I had made my first US-based C-130J! I can imagine the crew appreciated the quick stop, 6 hours across the Atlantic Ocean in a Herc doesn't sound particularly comfortable! Within 2 hours aircraft, the aircraft had been fuelled and had departed Lakenheath heading to Ramstein. 

The next day, the 2nd Texas Herc crossed the pond and typically passed overhead my house in pure cloud early in the morning. It didn't stop in the UK, managing to get to Germany in one. 

Both aircraft operated out of Ramstein for just under a month, helping out the 86th Airlift Wing. May 8th saw the 136AW machines depart Ramstein destined for Prestwick. They made it back to Texas on May 10th.