The 133rd Airlift Wing has begun receiving upgraded eight-blade propellers for its C-130 Hercules fleet, flying out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Photo courtesy of 133rd Airlift Wing website at www.133aw.ang.af.mil.
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133rd Airlift Wing Welcomes First Eight-Bladed Propeller C-130

133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 133rd Airlift Wing has received their first C-130 Hercules with an updated eight-bladed propeller. One Cottage Grove resident, Master Sgt. Leon Peterson, is an aircraft maintainer from the 133rd Maintenance Group and will be working on the new aircraft.

The 133rd Airlift Wing currently flies eight C-130H3 Hercules model aircraft out of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Last year the Wing launched a three-phase modernization process through the introduction of the electronic propeller control system (EPCS).

The Wing is currently in the second phase of the modernization process, which includes transitioning the C-130s from four-bladed propellers to eight-bladed propellers. The eight-bladed propellers will deliver more power and efficiency, while reducing maintenance. They are also helpful in cold weather and arctic operations, due to increased thrust for takeoff and climb-out. The completion of this phase is project to be the end of this fiscal year in September 2023.

The third phase will introduce a T56 3.5 turbo engine and will kick off in the fall of 2023.

Modernization is one of the Minnesota National Guard’s organizational priorities, and this aircraft upgrade reinforces our ability to protect our state and nation,” said U.S. Air Force Col. James Cleet, 133rd Airlift Wing Commander.

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“Modernization ensures we have the right forces, infrastructure, training spaces, and systems for our current and future missions,” said Cleet. “As our challenges and adversaries change, we require forces, equipment, and training to ensure our national security.” The C-130 is a legendary cargo aircraft known for its tactical abilities; it can operate from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops, equipment, and aid into hostile areas, as well as providing medical evacuations. In Minnesota, the cargo aircraft are often used to assist with natural disasters and state emergencies. Over the last 51 years the Wing has flown three different models of the C-130 aircraft. The current model, the C-130H3 Hercules, has been with the 133rd Airlift Wing since 1996. Since the Wing started flying the C-130 in 1971, crews have logged more than 213,000 flying hours. To put that into perspective, that would be 27 years of flying non-stop.

The 133rd Airlift Wing is one of the two flying wings in the Minnesota Air National Guard. They have a proud heritage as the first federally-recognized aviation squadron in the United States. The 133rd Airlift Wing celebrated their 100th anniversary last January.


The new eight blade configuration on the C-130 will replace the old four blade propellers, as on this flight seen over Grey Cloud Island on February 2 of this year.Photo by Joseph Back.

May 18, 2022