Supporting the iconic Blue Angels display team
Apprentice Ollie Higgins can barely of imagined he’d find himself working on one of the world’s most iconic aircraft when he made his application to join our team of avionics apprentices.
But that’s exactly what happened after we were awarded the contract to support the service of the replacement for the Blue Angels’ iconic Fat Albert, the support aircraft to the US Navy’s air display team.
The new Fat Albert is a C-130J Super Hercules that takes part in the display team’s flying performances, as well as being a crucial support aircraft, carrying the Blue Angels’ tools, spare parts and engineers.
No wonder then that second year Aircraft Avionics Apprentice, Ollie Higgins was ecstatic as he got the opportunity to join the team working on Fat Albert in early August 2019 to perform depth maintenance on the aircraft. Not your typical role as an apprentice!
“At the time of joining the team I was only just finishing my second year of my apprenticeship and so many of the systems and jobs I was doing on Fat Albert were completely new to me. I was extremely lucky to have such an experienced team around me to guide me through any issues I had and I quickly picked up new skills that helped me be more effective. The aircraft was a big challenge for me at such an early stage in my career, but I also saw this as such exciting opportunity to work on one of the most famous aircraft in the world.
"The knowledge I gained from this input is without doubt crucial to my future career. The amount of tasks I got to complete that are of use to my Level 3 qualification is incredible and has put me in a great place in completing my qualifications. The experience I gained in just under a year working on Fat Albert has massively helped me on subsequent aircraft and inputs I have worked on since. It increased the confidence in my own ability to carry out tasks to an extremely high standard.
"I feel extremely lucky to have had the chance to gain so much from working on Fat Albert.”
Another of our Avionics Apprentices, Callum Brown commented:
“I was also lucky enough to be part of the team working on Fat Albert. My role included the removal and installation of the completely new IFF system (Identify Friend or Foe), as well as stripping back the flight deck and re-building it to the US Navy configuration. I was involved in almost every modification on the aircraft while the aircraft was here!
"This project was completely different to anything else I have worked on, extremely complicated but incredibly gratifying. I personally felt I had more responsibly and was in communication with the customer at all times, while still being an apprentice. Working on Fat Albert drastically improved my aircraft type knowledge, and ability to solve problems at a faster rate which I can carry on into my career.”
After modification, Fat Albert was then repainted in the Blue Angels’ iconic blue, yellow and white colours at our headquarters in Cambridge, UK.
Watch the Paint Reveal