The Tasks of Hercules

Lynden Air Cargo Lockheed Herc

Lynden Air Cargo is typically associated with the cold climate of Alaska, but on this January day N401LC (msn: 4606), one of Lynden’s six Lockheed L-382G Hercules aircraft is seen here sitting on the ramp in Seattle at Boeing Field.

The Anchorage-based carrier, founded in 1995, is part of the larger Lynden International, a transportation and logistics company that began as a trucking company in 1906 and gradually grew to provide many different forms of shipping including road, rail, and over-water, as well as construction services, throughout the Pacific Northwest, Western Canada, and in particular, Alaska. Lynden’s association with Alaska dates back to 1954 when it began ALCAN highway service from Seattle to Alaska.

Lynden Air Cargo primarily serves hard-to-reach places in Alaska. Scheduled destinations (from Anchorage) currently include Bethel, Nome, and Kotzbue, but “any community with a runway” paved or rough, can charter flag stops on one of Lynden’s fleet of six L-382 Hercs. Lynden also offers flag stops at Deadhorse, Kodiak, Iliamna, Emmonak, St. Paul, St. George, Dutch Harbor/Unalaska McGrath, Galena, Cold Bay, Adak, Cordova and Yakutat. Charter work, for relief services, Government charters, and commercial work, can also sometimes take aircraft very far afield.

The versatility of the Hercules makes almost any destination – including remote points in the Alaskan bush – possible. The L-382 is, of course, a civilian variant of the Military C-130 Hercules, and was developed in the 1960s (as the L-100) for specific use as an outsize and special cargo freighter. In 1963, a shorter version of the military Herc was successfully tested on aircraft carriers. Though it was never put into service as a carrier-based aircraft, the Herc’s valuable STOL capabilities were baked in to the design.

From 1965 to 1992, some 114 civilian Hercules aircraft were built, with later, larger versions like the L-100-30 (L-382G) being able to accommodate up to 51,000 lbs of cargo in a hold big enough to drive a truck into.

With the military airlifter DNA, the Hercules has no trouble landing on virtually any runway. Four Allison 501-D22A props provide the power. An updated version of the civilian Hercules was on the drawing board at Lockheed-Martin in the late 1990s, but has not since re-emerged.

© Photographer: Alex Kwanten

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