C-130 Flares

Photograph shows a C-130 transport dropping anti-missile flares.

  • Published 15 July 2003


Photograph shows a C-130 transport dropping anti-missile flares.


Many are praying for God’s protection over our brave men and women fighting overseas. Someone sent us this amazing photo that graphically illustrates an angel watching over our troops.

The C-130 transport plane uses flares to protect itself from heat-seeking missiles. This rare photo shows how the pattern of the flares forms an angel. What a great portrait of God’s protection!

The picture displayed above appears in a series of photographs of C-130 Hercules transport aircraft posted to the C-130 System Program Office (SPO) web site hosted at Robins Air Force Base. The swirling patterns are caused by the plane’s dropping decoy flares to fool and evade heat-seeking anti-aircraft missile, and they illustrate a phenomenon of wake turbulance known as vortex shedding. The drag from tips of aircraft wings tend to produce vortices or swirls, and the pattern shown here is a common sight at air shows where planes emit and fly through smoke to create pleasing visual effects. (A video clip of the flare-dropping process can be viewed here.)

The wing-like pattern formed behind the plane has far less to do with the protection of “angels” than it does with plain old aerodynamics and weather. Just as one can spot all manner of shapes while gazing at cloud formations, one can — with a little imagination — find a variety of images in the patterns of decoy flares: