March 6, 2014 (by MSgt. Bob Barko Jr.) - With little fanfare, the 910th Airlift Wing said goodbye to a member of the family. Recent US Air Force structure changes eliminated four C-130 Hercules tactical cargo transport aircraft from the wing's Primary Aircraft Inventory (PAI).
MSgt. Sam Phillippi, crew chief of 910th AW #92-3021, a C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, looks back into a maintenance hangar on March 3, 2014. A tow motor is pushing his aircraft, Tail 3021, onto the air station flightline as it is prepared to depart here for the final time. The C-130 is being transferred to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. as part of recent Air Force structure changes. The departure of 3021 from YARS leaves the 910th with eight primary C-130 aircraft and one back up aircraft assigned to the unit. [USAF photo by MSgt. Bob Barko Jr.]
Two of the aircraft were on loan to the C-130 training facility in Little Rock, Ark. since 2011 and were permanently transferred to that facility's inventory on Oct. 1, 2013. The third and final aircraft, 910th Airlift Wing Tail #3021
, scheduled to leave YARS as part of the force structure changes flew out of YARS for the last time, March 5, 2014. The fourth aircraft taken from the 910th's primary inventory will stay at YARS but become a Back-up Aircraft Inventory (BAI), a spare aircraft with no personnel or funding associated with it.
Air Force Reserve Master Sgt. Sam Phillippi, crew chief of Tail 3021, looked over the aircraft, wistfully, leading preparations for it to fly out of YARS for a final time.
"It's a great airplane. It really, really is," said Phillippi. "It's been to the desert, it's deployed a bunch of times and it was our 2009 (Air Mobility Command) Rodeo bird. I hate to see it go."
It seemed something was trying to keep this particular C-130 at YARS as long as possible, even if only for a day or two, as an ice storm in Little Rock cancelled the aircraft's originally scheduled departure on March 3, 2014.
But, 48 hours later, the weather cleared and Tail 3021, touted as one of the wing's most reliable aircraft and also noted to have the most flying hours for the wing's assigned aircraft, lifted into a cloudy, cold Northeast Ohio sky for the last time in the foreseeable future.
Phillippi said he and another crew chief will stay with Tail 3021 for a couple more days after arriving in Little Rock as they work to transfer the aircraft and all of its on-board equipment to the Arkansas installation's inventory. Following this final assignment as the aircraft's crew chief, the 910th maintenance specialists will return to YARS to continue their work on other 910th aircraft.
After the aircraft is officially transferred to Little Rock, it will be flown to the C-130 depot in Georgia and given a complete maintenance overhaul. During the overhaul, all vestiges of the aircraft's assignment at YARS and the 910th including the familiar red, white and blue "Youngstown" tail flash and other wing markings will be removed.
The reduction in aircraft assigned to the 910th will also cause the loss of approximately 50 full-time and 150 part-time positions. The position reductions will take place throughout the Fiscal Year 2014 which ends Sept. 30.
910th Airlift Wing Commander Col. James Dignan said while the wing could not control changes to the Air Force structure; the unit would make every effort to assist its personnel affected by the personnel reductions.
"We will assist in any way we can to make these transitions as painless as possible in these uncertain times," said Dignan.
In addition to assisting those affected by the reductions at the air station, the commander said the 910th would do everything possible to keep people in the Valley and beyond informed about the mission and capabilities the air wing and installation provide to the nation.
Although Tail 3021's elimination from the 910th's primary inventory reduces the wing to eight C-130 Hercules aircraft assigned and one back-up aircraft, the 910th and YARS are strong pillars in the nation's defense and bring many unique capabilities to the Air Force Reserve, Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD). Six of the nine aircraft remaining at YARS are modified to carry out Air Force Reserve Command's aerial spray special mission. The 910th Airlift Wing is home to the DoD's only large-area, fixed-wing aerial spray capability and conducts approximately 25 specialized missions at various installations across the country annually. Additionally, YARS has several training features, such as its 3000-feet long short-field training assault strip and its airfield night vision training lighting system, utilized by many military and government agencies from around the Northeastern United States. The YARS flightline and hangar areas are also designed to base and maintain 16 C-130 aircraft.
"We have a duty to the American people and Congress to keep them informed about how tax dollars are spent here. We have many assets unique to our installation and we will continue to spread the word about what the 910th and YARS provides to the national defense," concluded Dignan.