920th RQW bids farewell to King 30

920th Rescue Wing commander Col Kurt Matthews (left) poses with fellow aircrew and maintainers in front of the HC-130N King 30 on 7 August at Patrick Air Force Base (Staff Sgt Jared Trimarchi / USAF)

Members of the 920th Rescue Wing (RQW), part of the US Air Force Reserve Command, have waved good-bye to the Wing’s last HC-130P King plane on 7 August. Commander Col Kurt Matthews and members of a hand-selected aircrew flew plane from Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, to be decommissioned.

The Wing noted that the aircraft, tail number 5830 and known as King 30, had been part of the 920th RQW for nearly three years and was part of the unit’s recent deployment to the Horn of Africa this year.

King 30 needed some replacement parts, but was still an effective aircraft, said Master Sgt Joseph Duren, 720th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron expeditor: “When we finally showed up, it was like bringing a 1957 Chevy to a Ferrari convention. But the plane was reliable and was able to accomplish the mission.”

King 30 was in rough shape after returning from deployment, Duren said, but maintainers such as Staff Sgt Kyle Lutsic, 720th AMXS crew chief who was assigned to King 30, dedicated his talents and service to ensure the plane stayed mission-ready. “This was one of our better birds, so I’m sad to see it go,” Lutsic said. “It never really had any major work done since I’ve been here, just some corrosion issues. These types of planes are easy to get attached to because I’ve spent a lot of time with them.”

The aircraft arrived from Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, where it was used to train new pilots. Col Peter Wojciechowski, 920th Maintenance Group commander, said getting the training C-130 combat mission ready was no easy task: “The fact that this plane came from a training environment to being used on combat rescue missions is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our maintenance team. Our men and women work hard day in and day out."

The 920th RQW is slated to receive new HC-130J Combat King II aircraft in late 2019 as part of efforts to modernise the fleet.

Duren commented: “I enjoy working on old planes and the nostalgia behind them, but I do look forward to the new airframe and the capabilities it will bring to the rescue mission.”

King 30 is the latest retiree from the 920th RQW; there have been 14 HC-130s sent to the 309th AMARG in previous years, said the Wing.

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