This post originally featured on Task & Purpose.
Aviators, maintainers, aircrew, answer me this: How is your wardrobe these days? Sure, the Air Force now allows maintainers to wear shorts on the flight line, but do you ever feel like your outfits are missing something?
Have no fear, because Louis Vuitton is here with a vaguely C-130 Hercules-shaped handbag which, at $39,000 a pop, costs half an actual Air Force pilot’s annual salary and even more than half of your average enlisted airman’s salary. But hey, pretty hurts, am I right?
To be clear, calling this accessory a “C-130-styled handbag” is just a guess. While there are several features the handbag shares with the Air Force’s multirole cargo aircraft—including four underwing engines, high straight wings, multiple separate windshield panes, a blunt nose, conventional tail, and boxy, aft-loading cargo compartment—the handbag is missing one key feature: propellers! The Air Force did try to mount rockets to a C-130 in 1980 to rescue American hostages in Iran (the idea failed when the modified C-130 crashed during a test flight), there are no jet-powered C-130s that I am aware of. Please let me know in the comments if I’m wrong though!
Could the handbag be based on the Air Force’s jet-powered cargo aircraft, such as the C-17 Globemaster or the C-5 Galaxy? Possibly, but it seems to have even less in common with those aircraft. Most notably, the handbag lacks the T-tail and swept-back wings found on those larger cargo planes, as well as the bent wingtips found on the C-17 and the generally longer fuselage of the massive C-5. So my best guess is that this is a Louis Vuitton-painted C-130 in the midst of a propeller upgrade.
If I’m right, then fashion designer Virgil Abloh could not have chosen a better aircraft for an accessory that’s made for carrying stuff. The C-130 has flown with the Air Force since 1959, and it has served in almost every major and minor American conflict over its 62-year career. The C-130 can hold up to 42,000 pounds of troops, supplies, and vehicles. It can push that cargo out for a mid-flight airdrop or land on a rough, dirt strip in the middle of nowhere. The C-130 can also be modified and configured for a huge range of missions, hopefully in the same way a handbag can go with a wide range of outfits and occasions. For example, the aircraft has been modified to serve as death-spitting gunship, an aerial refueling tanker, a storm-chasing weather plane, and tons of other roles. It can do anything from fight fires to land on snow. So yeah it’s a badass, and if the $39,000 handbag can’t do a third of these things then their customers have been thoroughly swindled. That said, if you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on a bag, you’re probably too rich to care about any of that.
Read on about the C-130’s pre-haute couture history at Task & Purpose.