The NC-130B Hercules at Hill Air Force Base
This NC-130B-1-LM, S/N 57-0526, was the second B Model Hercules manufactured by Lockheed Corporation of Marietta, Georgia (Lockheed Number 3502). It was delivered to the USAF as a JC-130B in February 1959 and assigned to the 6515th Organizational Maintenance Squadron for flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in November 1960.
While with the 6515th, the aircraft was used for jet-assisted take-off (JATO) testing, then it was turned over to the 6593rd Test Squadron’s Operating Location No. 1 at Edwards. The plane spent the next seven years supporting the top-secret Corona Program. The J status and prefix were removed from the aircraft in October 1967.
In May 1973, the aircraft was transferred to the 6593rd Test Squadron of the 6594th Test Group at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. There it was modified to perform mid-air retrieval of satellites and other objects as they floated back to earth beneath parachutes, under the Falling Star project and others. The aircraft was also used to recover high-altitude air samples in various locations around the world.
The plane was acquired by the 6514th Test Squadron at Hill Air Force Base in January 1987. While assigned with that unit, the plane was used as an electronic testbed and as a cargo transport. In January 1994, the aircraft was finally retired with over 11,000 flight hours and made its final move to Hill Aerospace Museum.