News: VMM-561 lands in bed during training
Story by Lance Cpl. Rebecca Eller
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. - Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 561 conducted emergency landing pad procedures for MV-22B Ospreys aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Feb. 13.
The training helps pilots react if an aircraft suffers landing gear malfunctions. One Osprey practiced landing to test the configuration of the pad eyes. Pad eyes are used to anchor the ties that hold the numerous stacks of mattresses together, ensuring they can withstand the down wash of an MV-22B or a CH-53E. Mattresses are used to protect the aircraft frame from damage.
“We’ll have one of our crew chiefs guide the aircraft down from a distance and land them on the mattress [stack],” said Capt. Christopher Demars, an aviation safety officer with VMM-561 and a Wilson, N.C., native. “That’s a safe way to try to get the aircraft on the deck without the landing gear fully extended.”
The same practice exercise was conducted in October 2011; however, it did not go as smoothly, since the mattress stacks were unstable and not ideal for landing.
“The difference between then and now is night and day,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Giovinazzi, an Osprey airframe mechanic with VMM-561.
The training exercise was significantly better than the previous training due to the location and number of pad eyes.
In a real life situation, a pilot would call the tower and let them know they are having trouble with the landing gear, and then the maintenance Marines would assemble at the only dedicated emergency landing pad for the MV-22B and CH-53E aboard MCAS Miramar.
“We would grab our gear, come out here and then walk [the pilot] through trouble shooting steps,” said Giovinazzi. “Worst case scenario, they would be landing on the mattresses.”
Once the aircraft makes an emergency landing on the mattresses, it is then shut down. The maintenance Marines jack up the aircraft to figure out what happened with the gear.
“We’re just trying to find ways to do training to set things up better and to make them safer,” said Demars.
This was only a training emergency landing pad procedure, should an actual emergency occur, VMM-561 is ready.