News: MV-22 takes tight landings to new heights
Story by Lance Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot
The stomach-churning accelerations and decelerations of the MV-22 “Osprey” seemed to have no effect on the crew chiefs from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadrons 161 and 561, casually directing the pilots who could not see what was underneath and behind the Osprey while they rehearsed confined area landings at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and San Clemente Island Feb. 17.
Pilots and crew chiefs practiced vertical helicopter-style landings on various landing zones with limited space, and then traditional high-speed airplane landings on San Clemente Island.
Aviators use CALs to land on steep hilltops, in narrow valleys and anywhere that does not have a traditional runway. Any helicopter can perform CALs, but Osprey aircraft perform CALs at higher speeds and can travel greater distances.
Speed, flexibility and the ability to execute precarious landings came in handy during rescue operations in Haiti in January 2010.
Sgt. Allen Hilliard, a crew chief with VMM-561 explained that Osprey aircraft delivered 100,000 pounds of supplies to post-quake Haitians in remote areas, many of which were too far to reach by traditional helicopter. Hilliard was aboard the first Osprey to land in Haiti.
Osprey aircraft combine the maneuverability of a helicopter with the speed of an airplane - the MV-22 can fly twice as fast as a helicopter.
“[CALs] show off the flexibility of the Osprey,” said Lt. Col. Eric Gillard, an Osprey pilot with VMM-161. “[The aircraft can perform] helicopter landings in confined areas and straight-in approaches. We even had the ability to fly for three hours without having to refuel.”
The nausea-inducing CALs have been critical to mission success in places like Haiti, but not everyone has the iron stomach of Osprey pilots and crew.
“When I was on the boat [with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit],” said Hilliard, “we flew a UFC fighter and he puked on us. It was pretty funny!”
Seasoned pilots and crew, fortunately, do not seem fazed by rollercoaster-like accelerations and rapid halts.
Perfecting confined area landings remains necessary whether Osprey pilots and crew need to deliver supplies to remote Haitian villages or pick up troops in jagged Afghan mountains.