If you were outside and you heard the roar of those engines overhead, you looked up to watch the “Flying Boxcars” winging their way to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, connected to what was then Youngstown Municipal Airport. The plane was used as a troop and cargo transport during the Korean War and into the 1960’s when the 910th Troop Carrier Group was first established at the Youngstown Air Force Base.
The beginnings of the Youngstown Air Force Base goes back to the early Cold War. In 1951, the Air Defense Command negotiated with Youngstown to establish a base for defense of the north-central United States in the event of a nuclear attack from Soviet bombers. Originally, the 86th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron flew F-84 Thunderjets. Later, they upgraded to the F-102 Delta Dagger. which the 86th flew until moved in 1960. Also in 1955, the 79th Fighter Group was assigned to Youngstown.
Also stationed at the Air Force Base in those early years was the Air Force Reserve’s 26th Fighter Bomber Squadron, a reserve unit flying the T-33 Shooting Star, a subsonic jet trainer, and very briefly the F-86H Sabres, a transonic fighter bomber.
In 1959, the 86th was pulled out and the 26th inactivated. In 1960 the 79th was deactivated. The coming of the 910th in 1963 signaled the beginning of what is now a 57 year history. Over the years the mission changed from transport to air support special operations (1971-1973), a fighter group (1973-1981), and Tactical Airlift since then. Once again the loud roar of aircraft engines can be heard near the airport with the arrival of C-130’s. These aircraft can carry 92 troops, 64 paratroopers, and 45,000 pounds of cargo. The 910th has also had unique mission as a large area fixed spray operation, used in killing mosquitoes and other disease carrying insects. Currently, Ohio’s congressional delegation is working to get the latest version, the C-130J for the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.
Hopefully, the valley will continue to hear the sound of those C-130’s overhead for many years to come.