Have spotted this aircraft flying over the western U.S. more than once this July: a couple of times in early July north of Spokane, WA, and today over the Silicon Valley area. All times it was flying very low, but was relatively quiet for how close to the ground it was. It appears to have two propellers on each wing and is a plain gray, which makes me think it may be military. My searches for military aircraft that fit this description have come up blank though. Any help with identification is appreciated!

Blurry photo below is the best I was able to get.

Image of aircraft

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    $\begingroup$ First time I've ever heard a C-130 described as quiet! Usually their distinctively loud sound is one of the main give-aways! Maybe that's somehow unique to when the pass over at higher altitude-- you get that all-pervasive gently throbbing roar-- PS re "First time I've ever heard a C-130 described as quiet!"-- or small!! $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2023 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ @quietflyer I expect from their description of it as "small" that it was in fact higher up than OP thought it was. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Jul 26, 2023 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ Probably will conclude that I misjudged the altitude, thanks for the help everybody! $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2023 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ You may wish to edit your title - that is a HUGE aircraft!!! $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Jul 27, 2023 at 11:42
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    $\begingroup$ The odds that you saw the same aircraft in both locations are extremely remote. You probably saw multiple instances of the same type. $\endgroup$
    – nobody
    Jul 29, 2023 at 18:33

2 Answers 2


It is a Lockheed C-130 (Hercules), generally used by the military. The civilian variant is an L-100 Hercules.

Also, the C-130 is not so small (per your question). It's max takeoff weight is similar to a B737 and it has a longer wing span.

enter image description here

Source: Wikipedia

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    $\begingroup$ Hercs are still relatively small, especially on the scale of transport aircraft. For comparison: external-preview.redd.it/… $\endgroup$
    – fectin
    Jul 28, 2023 at 22:40

I believe this is an HC-130J Combat King II based on the wing tanks and paint scheme, from the 129th Rescue Wing, which is based out of Moffett Federal Airfield, California, based on where you reported seeing it (the Silicon Valley).

https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/104468/hc-130j-combat-king-ii/ https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/hc130jfeaturepage

  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't put too much stock into a paint scheme, and the wing tanks can be fitted to any (all?) variants, used for transport/ferrying, and more. $\endgroup$
    – SnakeDoc
    Jul 28, 2023 at 23:56

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