All Crew Safe After F-35 Collides With KC-130J (Updated Audio/Video)

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The U.S. Marine KC-130J that crashed after an inflight fueling collision on Tuesday lost both right engines and may have been on fire, according to ATC tapes (see below) recently published. A video caught by a bystander showed the ground impact of the F-35B which collided with the tanker during a training exercise. All crew members from both aircraft were recovered safely, according to the Navy’s USNI.

A photo showed the KC-130J wheels up in farm field near the Thermal Airport in California. “The KC-130J is on deck in the vicinity of Thermal Airport. All crew members of the KC-130J have been reported safe,” the USNI statement said. No injuries were reported among the KC-130J crew. The KC-130J is equipped with a drogue fuel system that deploys from external tanks on each wing. It’s routinely used by the Marines and Navy for inflight refueling operations.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. At first it looked like the damage was to the #4 engine, but looking more carefully I see that fuel is pouring from the port side wing. I assume that’s fuel. And is the #1 engine missing a prop blade? What would’ve caused that? The imbalance in the far right engine shook the plane so badly it damaged the left side too? Must’ve been a wild ride – no wonder the skipper put it down RIGHT NOW.

    • Bob K., I believe your assessment of fuel gushing from the left wing is correct. Based on photos of the KC-130J, that is where the outboard refueling system pod and pylon should be. There’s a photo of KC-130Js on Wikipedia, oddly of the mishap aircraft involved, it shows the system mounted in this area of the wing. Whatever knocked the pylon and pod off, in addition to the other massive amounts of damage elsewhere, must have been one heck of a hit. The Herk sure is a tough bird to sustain damage like that and still bring its crew back to terra firma alive. Good job to the crew for handling an emergency like this.

  2. I don’t see any prop blades from the #3 engine either. If I were to guess there was only one engine running (#2) when the plane landed. I would say it was a perfect landing since no one was hurt. Going to be an interesting accident report.

  3. KTRM, my home airport. C130 landed on a carrot field, 1nm east and parallel to rwy 17-35. C130 made it to the airport environment and away from a populated areas, fortunately for all. Damage: maybe one acre or about $11K worth of carrots not counting PTSD on farm workers and/or farmer. I would imagine they won’t be looking down for a while.

  4. The old Hercules is as tough as nails. I rode aboard a USAF C-130 “Trash Hauler” out of Guam, and it was quite an experience. One surreal feature of this bird is the air conditioning system. A tube extends along the upper cargo compartment that squirts cold air from holes, and it creates a steam-like column from each orifice. This phenomenon may be unique to that particular climate. (Muggy, to say the least.)

  5. Incredible. He states he had a mid-air, 2 engines out, leaking fuel, emergency descent, another flight advises column of smoke on ground probably from other aircraft, and controller asks kc-130 during emergency, can you call when you get on the ground. Just… incredible. I’m sure that’s what the pilot needed to hear just then.

    • Truth Mark! When an incident like this occurs we learn the mettle of both the flight crew and air traffic controller(s) – along with the usually stark differences in professionalism. For a real dose of a controller lacking in good, safe, efficient conduct in an emergency situation, listen to the audio of Southwest flight 1380 from April 2018. Now that was incredible. SMH…… 🙄

    • The worst thing ATC can say:

      “Say intentions”

      Well, my intentions were to land, meet some friends for a burger, take back off and enjoy the fall foliage, land back at home base, put the plane away, fire up the grill for some ribeyes and enjoy the hot tub…but that’s not looking like it’s gong to happen.

      “Say intentions” does not help the situation one iota and it only adds to the pilot work load. He/She is attempting to form some semblance of recognizable order from the chaos, and you ask to articulate the nature of the chaos and your intentions to fix it.

      Instead, range and bearing to the nearest airport or corn field would be much more helpful. Anything much more than that, stay off the frequency.

  6. Awful lot of useless transmissions by the controller. Seems like a training gap: imagine yourself in the cockpit, do you want to be answering questions? Just provide any useful information and shut up.

  7. “The U.S. Marine KC-130J that crashed after an inflight fueling collision on Tuesday lost both right engines and may have been on fire, according to ATC tapes,”

    Not to nitpick, BUT the KC-130 did in fact complete a near perfect emergency landing following an inflight collision. The plane did not “crash“ during the emergency landing….just would like to read more accurate account of events.