Hundreds of drought-weary ranchers in South Carolina today greeted two Air Force transport jets loaded with 100 tons of hay donated by Illinois farmers to help keep livestock alive.

About 300 people -- including Gov. Richard W. Riley (D) -- greeted the planes at Donaldson Center air field in Greenville.

The airlift is designed to help save starving cattle in the Southeast, which has been stricken with drought. Much of the donated hay was grown by Illinois farmers as part of a federal program that bales alfalfa and other crops for use as livestock feed.

Workers using forklifts provided by Lockheed Aircraft Corp. unloaded more than 2,000 bales of hay and moved it to another area of the runway, where dozens of farmers had lined up hours before the planes touched down.

The farmers, who received 65 bales each, were allocated the hay on a first-come, first-serve basis through their extension services.

Two more airlifts are scheduled next week from Illinois, and Riley said the CSX railroad has agreed to ship another 2,000 tons of hay to South Carolina.

In Springfield, Ill., Gov. James R. Thompson (R) rolled up his sleeves and joined farmers, prison inmates, military personnel and farmers in loading the hay. "The spirit of the Illinois farmer is as strong and generous as ever," Thompson said.

Columbia, S.C., reached a record 106 degrees today, the 14th consecutive day the city has hit 100 or higher. The heat index, a measure of how hot it felt with high humidity and little wind, was expected to reach 120 in South Carolina, the National Weather Service said.

Augusta, Ga., also hit a record 106 degrees, the 31st straight day of 90-plus temperatures in that east Georgia city.

Other records included 102 at Charlotte, N.C.; 100 at Jacksonville, Fla.; 100 at Columbus, Ga.; 101 at Atlanta, and 96 at Mobile, Ala. Charlotte's high tied a record that has stood since 1886. And Memphis hit 101, the hottest the city has been since Sept. 16, 1980.