Hercules aircraft turns 50

(Photo: 3 News)
(Photo: 3 News)

A fleet of Hercules aircraft used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) is marking half a century of missions around the Pacific region.

The C-130 aircraft is largely used for delivering aid, but has also played a part in search and rescue missions and transporting troops.

In March this year, the first of the fleet NZ7001 tipped off the year-long celebration, flying out of Whenuapai with aid for Tuvalu, before returning to Suva for the night.

That aircraft has been based at Whenuapai since 1965.

Now, the rest of the five-piece fleet are all reaching the milestone and taking to the air to celebrate.

Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal, Mike Yardley says the fleet is one of RNZAF's busiest.

"The C-130 is one of our busiest fleets because of the variety of taskings it can complete. For example, this summer season we have flown four missions to Antarctica to support Antarctica New Zealand and we recently delivered two large electricity generators to Mauke in the Cook Islands."

Despite the age of the C-130, it has been constantly upgraded throughout the years by a Life Extension Upgrade project run out of the RNZAF base in Blenheim.

All aspects of the aircraft including mechanical and structural components have been looked over, along with updates to the navigation systems.

New Zealand is one of 60 nations still using the C-130 aircraft; it holds the record for the longest continuous production of any military aircraft.

3 News