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In the Blue Angels FAQ it states that Fat Albert is made up of 7 crew, two of them being loadmasters. Why would you need loadmasters for a demonstration aircraft?

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  • $\begingroup$ Semi-related, the current airframe is ex-RAF. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Angels "The Fat Albert (BUNO 164763) was retired from service in May 2019 with 30,000 flight hours. The Blue Angels replaced it with an Ex-RAF C-130J (BUNO 170000).[84]" $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Apr 21 at 20:17

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Fat Albert’s primary purpose is actually transporting spare parts, tools, and maintenance personnel from show to show. Performing demonstrations is more of a byproduct of being part of the team.

Most crew-served aircraft like the C-130 fly with a standard number of personnel in each crew position, but that can change depending on the mission. For example, a local area, post-maintenance check flight may fly with a minimum crew of two pilots, a flight engineer, and a first mechanic to assist with any items in the back-end such as opening hatches to ventilate smoke and fumes, manually cranking down landing gear in the event of a hydraulic failure, etc. (which loadmasters are also trained to do).

A normal crew for most missions contains at least one loadmaster, but depending on the amount of cargo and available personnel, it is fairly common to have two assigned. Lengthy training missions may be augmented with additional pilots and navigators.

For the logistical support missions Fat Albert is tasked with, there definitely needs to be a loadmaster in the crew. Fat Albert has two, not because it is necessary to have two on each flight, but because it is a small team on a tight schedule so there needs to be some redundancy in case one is injured or falls ill.

FYI, in addition to normal flight duties, on a demonstration flight that included a JATO shot, it is the loadmasters in the back who pull the jettison T-handles to dump the spent rocket bottles following the intercom command of the pilot.

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    $\begingroup$ As an aside, the mission/ role of day is largely irrelevant. C-130s are designed to be flown with an Air Loadmaster even if empty as many drills and systems are inaccessible to the pilots and require someone to be able to move around the aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – Arkhem
    Apr 20 at 17:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Arkhem, Good point, but I don’t agree the mission is largely irrelevant. I have beefed up my answer as a result of your feedback though, so thanks. And please let me know if you think it can be improved further. $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ No JATO on the current Blue Angels C130, it's a J model. I'd also expect the crew size to be smaller given the J doesn't require an Air Engineer or a Navigator. $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ You mentioned "dump the spent [JATO] rocket bottles". Did they dump them to the ground? BTW, they apparently stopped doing the JATO demonstration because they used up the last of the compatible rockets. $\endgroup$ Apr 22 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket, I really don't have any idea. Maybe the mounts weren't designed for the stress of a possible hard landing? Probably just because we could... Maybe our transport pilots were all frustrated ground attack guys and just wanted to see how close they could get to hitting a target? $\endgroup$ Apr 24 at 19:04

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