Those magnificent, giant flying machines we’re used to seeing soar over the Valley, many times in pairs, are slowly being replaced by larger, faster aircraft.

Late last month, members of the 910th Airlift Wing Maintenance Group readied one of the C-130-H Hercules just before it took off for its final flight from the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

The flight marked the 910th’s start of divesting its legacy C-130H Hercules aircraft in preparation to receive new C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft.

Aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin says the C-130J-30 is a proven, highly reliable, and affordable airlifter, with advanced avionics, increasing usable space in the cargo compartment.

The C-130-H that departed last month will be reassigned to an Air National Guard unit, according to Senior Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.

 All eight of the C-130H Hercules aircraft currently assigned to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station will eventually be replaced in a one-for-one swap with Super Hercules aircraft.

“The arrival of the Super Hercules at YARS will help to ensure the viability of our airlift and aerial spray missions for years to come,” said Barko, who notes that the conversion process takes approximately three years.

The 910th Airlift Wing anticipates the arrival of the first C-130J sometime later this year.