The RAF Benevolent Fund's Simon Footer is a former Hercules pilot. In this guest blog, Simon recalls his time flying the Hercules C130K that was retired by the RAF last month.
I am currently the Regional Director for the Wales and West area and I'm responsible for raising awareness of the RAF Benevolent Fund as well as funds.
I retired from the RAF in 2012 following 33 years as a pilot flying mainly the Hercules C130K model from RAF Lyneham.
I was fortunate enough to command LXX Squadron at RAF Lyneham – a Hercules unit which predominantly flew in support of the Army's Airborne Forces but became heavily involved with the build up operations in Afghanistan.
Overall, I flew over 5,000 hours in the aircraft spanning 20 years and loved every minute of my time.
The Hercules C130K has been the tactical air transport work horse of the RAF for 46 years and will sorely be missed by all the crews and support teams who came into contact with it.
It is very difficult to pick out a particular high point from my time on the aircraft but I do remember leading the first operational parachute drop since Suez in Sierra Leone with the RAF Regiment – a hugely challenging mission in poor weather with three aircraft.
It is very sad to say goodbye to the legendary 'K' model and it’s entirely appropriate that a commemorative whisky has been produced in its memory.
There are 307 bottles of this whisky that are being auctioned to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. Each bottle is numbered and most are aligned to a specific aircraft registration.
By Simon Footer