[Video] Insane low pass flyby of a C-130 Hercules in Antarctica

Sep 24 2013 - 27 Comments

When it deals with crazy low altitude flying in front of the camera, Argentine Air Force pilots are among the most frequently featured.

Their skills in this type of flying were particularly useful to conduct ultra low altitude attacks on British warships during the Falklands War (Malvinas) even if later flybys, in peacetime, were nothing more than quite dangerous improvised improvised airshows sometimes performed between shelters.

The latest video shows an Argentine C-130 performing a low passage on a group of photographers at Base Antártica Marambio, the main Argentine base in Antarctica.

The footage says it all.

Even if it is not as dangerous as previous ones, the flyby is still dangerous, especially because performed on people and not for operative reasons.

Hercules C-130 Pasaje Rasante from Cristian sotelo on Vimeo.

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  • ask2wice

    It may look cool, but it is NOT the mark of a professional aviator. There are no scenarios where a C-130 would ever need to fly that low.

    The video reflects poorly on the pilot and the entire Argentinian AF. But hey, if you want to kill yourself, have at it. I just hope that pilot had permission from the rest of the crew and their families to take the risk of turning them all into crispy critters in less than a fraction of a second. Sierra’o Hotel’o amigo? Not in my book. The pilot is a damned fool! I’d have his/her wings.

    • flyAr

      I’m Guessing that you have +20000 flight hours logged, that you have a rating on a B732, 735, 737 at least, and that you have an airline pilot job. Right?

      • BadgerMk1

        Because high hour pilots never make mistakes right?

      • FoilHatWearer

        I find it interesting that whenever a person criticizes a low flyby, somebody like you shows up and starts asking for the person to justify their resume. Bad airmanship and poor aviation judgement are just that. I can tell you all about my 15 years of experience investigating aviation mishaps (when certain systems are suspected to be involved) but that really doesn’t matter. This pilot here is flying unsafe and unprofessional, end of story. If you want, I can direct you to all kinds of published Accident Investigation Board reports that have resulted from impromptu airshows. You can start with usaf-aib-law-af-mil (change the dashes to periods), click on “Fiscal Year 2000 Mishaps”, then go the report for 28 Aug 2000 (Near Tulia, TX). You can read all about the guy who turned himself and an F-16 into a smoking hole while flying an unauthorized airshow for his in-laws at their rural farm.

        Lots and lots of people were ooh-ing and ahh-ing Bud Holland’s flying (caught on video) literally seconds before he smashed a B-52 all over Fairchild AFB, narrowly missing a nuclear weapons storage area and a building where 400+ people were attending the retirement ceremony of a popular colonel on base. I don’t give a crap what happened to Bud but I sure feel bad that he killed 3 other good officers in front of their families and scarred their kids lives forever.

        • VCQ

          Excellent response…I had to read about Lt Col Holland’s “mishap” as part of Squadron Officer School. I’d been familiar with the crash before, but having to read the backstory on his unsafe flying was sobering.

    • Juanma Baiutti

      You are quite wrong. And I will tell you about it with facts:

      Between May 1st and June 13rd. FAA Hercules landed 31 times in Puerto Argentino and 2 times they did a cargo drop in Darwin/Pradera del Ganso (Darwin/Goose Green)

      How the made it as the British had sea and air control?

      Flying that low.

      A commando that was being transported to the islands went to de cockpit to talk to the pilots and when he saw the water so close he said: “hey! this is an airplane, not a boat!”

      Just to make this more interesting some pics about this

      Going down after taking off using 26 orientation:


      Cargo drop pics:


      And artist impresion:


      Check this video between 0:50 and 0:53. Landing at BAM Malvinas in 1982 during the conflinct.

      So yes, there are scenarios where they need to fly that low.

      • TractorEngineer

        That’s fine, but those tactical maneuvers should not be flown 15 feet over the heads of spectators that don’t know any better. If you ever had to be one of the guys picking up dead bodies from an unauthorized low pass that went too far (especially if it were people that you knew), you’d probably have a different perspective.

        • Juanma Baiutti

          I know the guys in the cockpit and some guys that stayed in Marambio.
          It’s ok this low pass for me.
          The Pampa’s low pass is not.
          But it’s ok, I respect your opinion.

    • ron

      It seems you have never heard of lapes.. A C-130 will fly within 10 feet of the ground during a LAPES.. Low Altitude Parachute Extraction. http://youtu.be/dgg3iRaVnbw

      • ask2wice

        “The Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES) is not currently in
        use by the US Air Force (USAF) or the US Army”.


        Why? Probably too dangerous, and USAF/Marine/Army pilots are probably the best trained in the world with the most combat flight time/experience, so if they don’t do it, there must be a good reason. Besides, this AAF pilot wasn’t practicing LAPES 15 feet over a crowd of people’s heads! He was engaged in a very reckless high-speed low-altitude pass over a group of onlookers. A prescription for a mishap if I’ve ever seen one!

    • Pampa

      Sorry, but you are out of context. Malvinas was just the scenario where these guys needed to fly that low so save their arses. That is how the Hercules broke repeatedly the British blockade, by day and night, until the last day. Only Hercules lost was during an exploration mission, as the AF lacked other planes suitable for the task, an almost sucide task, as it was done with the onboard radar and MK-1 eyeballs, and they paid with their lives because they have to fly at “normal” altitudes!!!
      Permission from the crew?? This is not how it works here. And I bet thet other guys were gladly into it.
      I have read similar comments from other people on other videos like this one, but you don’t understand the mindset of the AAF after Malvinas. For them flying ultra-low is a matter of pride.

  • flyAr

    ask2wice, I guess that you have +20000 logged hours right?

  • Dusty Rhodes

    The Blue’s Fat Albert flies way lower than that during takeoff at the start of their portion of the show.

    • Frédéric

      Yeah, but not that close to the crowd !!

      This (the argentinian pilot) is just plain stupid.

    • ask2wice

      During precision flight demonstrations, yes. But never directly over people’s heads!

  • Juanma Baiutti

    Hi David, just one thing.
    The final flyby is quite common when leaving the base but it’s made only when there are perfect conditions.
    It just a boost for the moral of the people that is going to spend a year in that base.
    Here a couple more examples about it:
    1) http://www.noticiasffaayseg.com.ar/wp-content/uploads/c38d0ed0ea04bfabf5a959d504e7e28b.jpg
    2) http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cX8sRVj0Yg4/T8gTxQLCS1I/AAAAAAAAASc/Xx06B9MhJ3c/s320/C-130+Hercules+01.jpg

  • Dagger

    Low pass of FAA´s Herks in LAN (Logistic Antartic) flights are a very long tradition over Marambio Base. This is not new folks.

  • ask2wice

    In response to Juanma Baiutti’s comment (not yet published by the moderator so I can’t directly post a response to it yet) let me make this point:

    I must strongly disagree. That wasn’t a training evolution
    by a SOC (or whatever the Argentineans call their special forces command)
    aircraft during flight qualifications. That was done, quite recklessly I might
    add, in order to “woo” and “aww” the crowd on the ground.
    It’s called “flat-hatting”, and there are plenty of dead airmen to
    show why it is a foolish thing to do. Foolish and in many countries with air
    arms, prohibited. Something you are told you will not do from day one of flight
    school. Not that pilots don’t sometimes do it, but if they get caught they can
    get in big trouble. Or worse – killed!

    Flying is not a game. Making it so gets people badly hurt or put into a box six
    feet under. At least what’s left of them (often very little)! Had that maneuver
    been flown in wartime or during an actual [required] training evolution, I
    wouldn’t have a problem with it. But it was neither of those things. It was
    done for pure thrill, as proven by people cheering and video-taping on the
    ground. &As you’ve shown pictures about why aggressive flight maneuvers are
    done during war-time, or perhaps even practiced, I can show you many more
    pictures and Class-A mishap reports which clearly show why it is not a wise
    thing to do during routine flight operations. And this looks like it was done simply
    because someone wanted to have fun. Not wise, and all-to-often deadly!

    So unless this was conducted as part of a training flight (certainly
    doesn’t look or sound that way – when aggressive flight training maneuvers are done
    usually people are not exposed to danger on the ground while standing in a
    training area, cheering, with the aircraft flying directly overhead), I stand
    by my statement.

    • Juanma Baiutti

      First of all, in this blog we have some previous very low flybys from the FAA.

      Both Pucará and Pampa ended with the flying career of the pilots.

      This, on the other hand, is a very different story.

      The pilots flying C130 are no rookies between transport pilots in FAA. Pilots flying to Marambio are not rookies in C130. So, we can say that this maneuvers were made by an experienced pilot.

      As we dont have a very large air force, most of our C130 pilots that have antartic certification (not everyone do the antartic logistic flight) goes to antartica often. They all know about the weather there and their limitations. In fact, they all have flown the Twin Otter from Marambio for 6 months at least 2 times!

      So, you have an experienced piloto with knowledge of the base and its weather.

      They are not improvising. they are doing something that the know how to do it and that have learnt from a more experienced pilot.

      You will find a lot of pictures (posted some in other reply) of the same thing. Check the clear sky. A bit weird in Marambio. So this is telling you that the “trick” is made in good weather. But not allways, I found a video with the manouver at dusk/dawn but is higher than the ones in pictures. So this shows that they adjust depending on conditions.

      So, all this typing just to say that this is not done as is, any time, by anyone.

      One more thing, as I said in other post. This is made for the crew of the base. The ones that are going to stay a year away from their love ones. They know that they can rely on the 1st Transport Squadron to be the link to the continent. As its motto says “We can so others can”

      So I stand by my statement too. With facts.

  • cencio4

    You don’t need several thousand flying hours to say that a particular maneuver or flyby is a show o poor airmanship.

    And please when you compare some stunts to what aerobatic display teams do, please don’t forget that pilots of the Blue Angels, Frecce Tricolori, Red Arrows etc, follow a specific training and, above all, always perform the maneuvers far enough from spectators etc.

    • ask2wice

      One more thing. We don’t want young people who are getting into this profession (and possibly looking at this website) to ever think that it’s OK to showboat, or to fly in a dangerous, unprofessional manner. Websites like this not only entertain, they also inform.

      Can you have fun making comments or reading stories on this (and other) aviation websites? Yes. Should we directly or tacitly endorse dangerous flight maneuvers (like flying 15 feet over a crowd of people’s heads) on any type of forum? No! Not in my mind anyway.

      I’ve seen or read about far too many tragic aviation accidents because of people performing reckless flight maneuvers. In the U.S. Navy, AF, Marines, Army, CG (and surely most NATO countries – others here can speak to that) it is strictly forbidden. You will be punished severely if you do so and are somehow caught. Ever hear the saying; “Accident waiting to happen”? But after reading some of the comments here from former military fliers of other nations, I do think that different countries set different standards on what is acceptable and what is not. Some more stringent than others. So be it.

      Increased risk is for wartime or during difficult (but well-supervised) training evolutions. It’s NOT for everyday flying. As has been well stated here, that’s something that often gets people killed.

      Every aviation professional in the world understands the need to maintain the highest standards where safety and professionalism are concerned. I didn’t see that on display while watching that Argentinian C-130 make a very low high-speed pass over a group of people’s heads. That it has happened before is no excuse – anywhere, not just Argentina! I won’t apologize for advocating both safety and professionalism while flying any sort of aircraft, from a Cessna 150 to an F-22 stealth fighter (and everything in between). If you however do, we will never see eye-to-eye.

  • Seashure

    If your going to do it, at least have someone with a decent camera/camera skills to record it……

  • very cool

  • Pampa

    Regardless of different opinions on the subject, thanks to everybody that posted here. I think most of the joy from an article on a given topic came from the comments of people interested in such, that juice up the article itslef and in most cases, add a lot of info!
    Thanks again everybody for sharing your thoughts.

  • Chuck130

    I am a C130 pilot. Any time I even think of doing a low pass I know that every idiot with a cellphone is whipping it out to drop the video on YouTube or Facebook, and that’s the end of my career right there. This height is unnecessary, and most of the regs call for something much higher. Video evidence of my plane less than 500′ agl outside of certain circumstances will get my ass chewed, ticket pulled and maybe more if it’s stupid enough. There may be a time where we need to operate that close to the ground, but putting everything at risk for an air show is just dumb.

  • C-130 Chief

    Thats bad ass! Beast mode!

  • Moro

    Who needs to justify this kind of flying???? Do you like it? So, enjoy it!!! You don´t like it? then fly as you like. You say this is not a “professional” flight? Decades ago, flying this low, they showed the world how professional they were and the things they could to help their comrades fighting in the islands without proper means.