UAE: Meet 'Hercules', the aircraft serving noble missions for nearly four decades

From delivering relief materials to earthquake victims in Morocco to flood victims in Pakistan, this aircraft has extended a helping hand to those in need

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SM Ayaz Zakir

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Al Arish Military Airbase, Dubai, gaza residents, Palestinians, Israel,
Al Arish Military Airbase, Dubai, gaza residents, Palestinians, Israel,

Published: Sat 4 Nov 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Nov 2023, 11:34 PM

Dubai Air Wing’s C130 Hercules is not just a jumbo plane, but a true hero in times of need. This aircraft has undertaken thousands of noble missions for nearly 4 decades to people affected by natural calamities or war.

From delivering relief materials to earthquake victims in Morocco to flood victims in Pakistan and Libya, this aircraft has transported much-needed relief and extended a helping hand to those trapped in calamities worldwide.

On October 23, Khaleej Times was on board this bird delivering essential supplies to Al Arish Military base in Egypt. With six flights to the military base, the aircraft has delivered over 50 metric tons of aid to Gaza.

Originally part of the UAE Air Force, the C130 joined the Dubai Air Wing in the mid-1980s, becoming a symbol of compassion and aid.

Seasoned pilots

For the last four decades, the aircraft has been in the hands of seasoned pilots from its Air Force days. Joined by a flight engineer in the cockpit, colonels Mohammed Al Hashimi and Muhammed Al Ghanem, have piloted the mighty machine for the last 36 years.

No runway? No problem

“What makes this aircraft stand out is its ability to operate from any patch of land which is even. It does not require a proper runway and can land and take off from unconventional environments, reaching those in need in a short time,” said Col. Al Hashimi.

Before 2005, the Dubai Air Wing’s C130 was in its original form from the cockpit to the pantry. “In 2005, the aircraft underwent a technical makeover, equipped with cutting-edge INS and radars. Autopilot specifications including high-end software and hardware were installed,” said Col. Al Ghanem.

Apart from carrying relief materials, the C130 can carry helicopters to armoured vehicles and can accommodate a wide range of oversized cargo, including military personnel and standard palletized goods.

Versatility

The aircraft can carry massive amounts of payload. “It can carry a staggering 20 tons of payload,” said Col. Al Ghanem.

The aircraft can cruise at a maximum speed of over 350 mph at 22,000 feet altitude, and is capable of carrying out even short missions with a flight duration of just 20 minutes. “The shortest distance we have flown is just 20 minutes, to an island near Doha in Qatar, and the longest distance is from Chicago in the United States of America to Pakistan,” said Col Al Hashimi.

The captains piloting the aircraft said that the aircraft and themselves will be every ready responding to calls for aid worldwide and to lend a helping when needed.

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