Aircraft Overview

The Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” aircraft is a four-engine, medium-size utility aircraft that has proven to be one of the most well-known and versatile aircraft ever built. The NSF/NCAR aircraft is a model EC-130Q, similar to the more common model C-130H model except for electrical and air-conditioning modifications. The aircraft is an all-metal, pressurized, high-wing monoplane powered by four Allison T-56- A-15 turboprop engines. It is equipped with dual-wheel, tricycle landing gear with the main gear wheels arranged in tandem and the nose gear arranged side-by-side. The C-130, maintained and managed by EOL, was placed into service with the NSF in 1992.

The NSF/NCAR C-130 is ideal for studies of the middle and lower troposphere. In a typical research configuration, it carries 13,000 pounds of payload with 8 to 9 hour endurance, and there is considerable flexibility in adjusting payload and range to meet specific mission requirements. It also has the capability to extend a ramp in flight (unpressurized), which allows for the deployment of specialized equipment such as ocean buoys. The C-130 performs a variety of research missions at altitudes below about 26,000 feet. With its excellent low altitude performance and heavy lift capabilities, the C-130 is ideal for studying the planetary boundary layer and lower to mid-tropospheric chemistry missions. In addition to NCAR’s standard thermodynamic, wind and turbulence, microphysics, radiation, and trace gas instruments, the C-130 has a roomy fuselage payload area that can accommodate many rack-mounted instruments with access to several inlets and optical ports. Several wing pods for external instrument stores of varying sizes are also available.