For some aviators, a sleek supersonic jet is what they want to drive, and others are hip to hover in a helicopter.
Marine Capt. Katie Higgins has the hots for the Hercules.
At this weekend’s Cherry Point Air Show, Higgins will be piloting Fat Albert, the famed C-130 of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team.
Higgins is also the first woman pilot in the history of the precision flying team
“What’s really great about the C-130 community in general is we do a plethora of missions from aerial refueling where we give gas to other airplanes or aerial delivery where we drop people or things out the back,” said Higgins. “We also do close air support where we shoot Hellfire and Griffin missiles off a C-130 and we also do cargo and a whole bunch of other stuff, so being able to wake up and do a different mission every day is definitely unique to the C-130 community and something that I definitely love doing, that’s for sure.”
Higgins is familiar with Cherry Point because she was stationed here three years with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, part of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
“It’s great coming back. It’s almost like coming home,” Higgins said. “I have so many friends here that I have made throughout the Marine Corps, so it’s wonderful to be back and to be able to perform for them.”
While the sleek F-18 jets wow the crowds with loops and rolls performed in formation, Fat Albert thrills with steep takeoffs and knife-edge passes at low altitude.
“It’s definitely cool. It’s a different perspective,” Higgins said about performing at Cherry Point. “That’s for sure, but to be able to perform for those military families and those Marines that are here is definitely an honor because they’re keeping us safe overseas and training to go overseas and to be able to show them what we can do is basically a thank you from us for their service.”
Higgins said she is representing all skillful C-130 pilots as she flies Fat Albert at air shows.
“What’s really neat about our show is that every maneuver is taught in the fleet as well so every C-130 pilot can do what we do,” she said. “We just do it a little bit lower and a little bit faster for show purposes.”
The big four-engine transport plane got its Fat Albert name from the cartoon back in the 1970s.
“Unfortunately it was off the air by the time I was born so I’m totally unfamiliar,” said the 29-year-old pilot. “Fat Albert has been an all-Marine crews since 1970 so it is really unique to be able to feature Marine Corps aviation, specifically at a show like this where C-130s are featured and it is a very large Marine Corps audience so it’s awesome to be able to show people around the United States that maybe aren’t familiar with the Marine Corps and what we can do with our air power and our capability.”
Read more about this at The Blue Angels blog