|Updated: 5/01/2012 5:37 pm
||Published: 5/01/2012 2:10 pm
JACKSONVILLE, AR - Members of the 19th Airlift Wing said goodbye to the Little Rock Air Force Base's last active-duty C-130E Tuesday.
The model E has been around since the early 1960's and has been used for all kinds of missions -- from air lifts to special ops to fire fighting, even hurricane hunting.
"It's like a muscle car," said Lt. Col. Dennis King. "You know, sometimes it's nice to drive automation and sometimes it's nice to to just drive something that's old and reliable."
Added Lt. Justin Pedone, "it's one of the last planes you actually truly fly."
The newer model C-130's just don't look the same. That's partially because a lot of the equipment inside the model E's actually came from old World War II planes.
"You deploy in them, the air conditioners don't work so you're hot and sweaty," explained Maj. Brad Salmi. "It just becomes part of the fun, you know? You hate them but you love them."
The last C-130E to leave the Little Rock Air Force Base was actually the very first one off the Lockheed Martin assembly line in Marietta, Georgia in 1961. They haven't built new ones since 1972, and those still in existence have racked up tens of thousands of flying hours.
Lt. Col. King called it "old reliable." Saying, "we can get it to the fight. We can still do it today, this bird can still do it, but it's her time to go."
The Little Rock Air Force Base now plans to transition from the C-130E's to C-130H's and finally to C-130J's.