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|Just for the benefit of some theatre-goers...A C130 is a hugely versatile aircraft and will do whatever it’s pilots ask of it. I know now, and have known over the years, some very experienced Hercules pilots. Those "special ops" guys are very, very good, but not stupid. |
It can land on a relatively unprepared surface, but it would be highly risky. It would never land on sand, meaning an unprepared strip, because even if it looked flat, it usually isn’t and there would be a huge risk of damaging the aircraft to the extent it wouldn’t be able to take off again. Just because an aircraft can land somewhere doesn’t mean it can also take off again, because in this case they would be heavier than when they landed.
Bearing in mind the success of the mission was to get in and get out again, they wouldn’t put the aircraft at risk,: indeed it would be incredibly stupid to attempt to land on anything other than a prepared strip.
For this event, both aircraft landed on an unsealed but otherwise prepared desert strip, and I know that because they well said so!