Tight squeeze for Fat Albert

Thought you might be interested in this article and photo in the local Wiltshire Gazette and Herald by reporter  Tom Mooney. The passing of another phase in the RAF Lyneham, Hercules story.

The transporter carrying the Hercules through Lyneham village

“Huge parts of a Hercules aircraft have been moved from RAF Lyneham, in one of the largest transportation operations on the county’s roads.

The fuselage of the decommissioned Hercules C-130 was moved to Hixon Airfield, in Staffordshire, where it will be used for parts.

It was carried, at around 7am on Sunday, on a 137ft long specialist load transporter, weighing 44 tonnes Accompanied by a police escort, it made its way down the A3102, before joining the M4. The wings of the aircraft were transported before Christmas on a similar vehicle.

Andy Humm, a former RAF engineer, who now works as a contractor on the base, said: “The village was out in force to see it passing by. There were even people out in their dressing gowns watching, despite it being below freezing.

“It took ages to get through because it was so large. It had problems going over the roundabouts.

“I have spent many years working on that particular aircraft, mostly when it was a Mark One plane during the Falklands.

“I obviously worked on a lot of them but certain tail numbers stick out and this was one of them.”

The Hercules aircraft – also known as Fat Albert – has long been associated with RAF Lyneham, having first entered service there in the late-1960s.

It was supposed to be decommissioned but was handed a stay of execution by the large-scale military cuts.

An RAF Lyneham spokesman said: “People will obviously connect the moving of these parts with the impending closure of Lyneham but that is not the case.

“The Hercules has simply been taken out of service and the sections of the plane are being transported to Hixon, where they will be used for parts.”

Police have issued warnings that there will be similar journeys taking place on the next two Sunday mornings, January 16 and 23, subject to the weather and operational conditions.

These are expected to be the wings and fuselage of another Hercules, also travelling to Hixon, and will also be transported at around 7am.

RAF Lyneham is due to be closed by 2012, with all of its aircraft and functions being shifted to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

North Wiltshire MP James Gray is leading the charge for the base to continue as a military facility.

He said: “I would love to see the army using it.”

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