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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota National Guard is marking the 50 years flying the famed C-130 aircraft to fulfill the 133rd Airlift Wing's transport mission.

The Air National Guard unit based in St. Paul began flying missions using C-130 Hercules transport planes on February 21, 1971. According to a news release about the Golden Jubilee celebration, the 133rd Airlift Wing has racked up over 213,700 flying hours, or the equivalent of 27 years of nonstop flying.

“Our history flying C-130’s has earned us the reputation as one of the premier Airlift Wings in the Air National Guard,” said Col. James Cleet, 133rd Airlift Wing Commander. “The success of our wing has been integral to the success of the Minnesota National Guard and United States Air Force. We look forward to continued success flying C-130’s well into the future.”

The unit has flown three different versions of the Hercules transport plane. The Minnesota National Guard still has one of the original C-130A models on display at the Minnesota Air National Guard Museum. The latest model, the C-130H3, has been flown by the 133rd Airlift Wing for the past 25 years.

Minnesota Air National Guard photo
Minnesota Air National Guard photo

The transport planes were most recently called into service to transport almost 1500 Minnesota National Guard soldiers and close to 120 tons of cargo to Washington DC to support the security mission during the Presidential Inauguration in early January. The 133rd Airlift Wing and its aircraft are a common sight in the skies above Rochester. Flight crews from the unit often practice "touch and go" landings at the Rochester International Airport.

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