Chinook News
Transformational

Osprey is half plane, half helicopter, & talk of fleet week

By Stephanie Gaskell, New York Daily News
Reprinted with permission

Osprey

USMC Photo

Osprey

It's a bird, it's a plane...it's an Osprey!

Forget the ships and submarines. The main attraction at this year's Fleet Week is the V-22 Osprey, an assault support aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like a plane.

"It's the Marine Corps' latest and greatest aircraft," boasted Marine pilot Maj. Brian Smith, 37, of Ridley Park, Pa.

After $20 billion and 25 years of development - including several test flights that killed a total of 30 Marines - the Osprey made its debut in a combat zone in Iraq in the fall of 2007.

"The airplane performed quite well over there," said Smith, who has been flying the Osprey for about five years.

Osprey

The Marines are planning to send a fleet to Afghanistan later this year. Since the aircraft is capable of landing in tight spaces like a helicopter, yet can fly at high altitudes and for long durations like a plane, the Marines hope the Osprey will help them tackle the tough terrain there.

"We're incredibly confident [that] having the Osprey in that environment is going to pay dividends for our forces," Lt. Gen. George Trautman, Marine deputy commander for aviation, told Military.com.

The plane can fly at twice the speed of a regular military helicopter and can refuel in-flight, meaning it can stay in the air longer.

There were three Ospreys in town for Fleet Week - they flew over the Hudson River as the parade of ships sailed into New York Harbor. The planes also performed a flyover at a Mets game at Citi Field.  

"People wonder what it is," said Marine pilot Capt. Robert Wicker, 27, of Hickory Tavern, S.C., who has been flying the Osprey for more than two years. "It's becoming more known now that it's actually out there in the battlefield." (May 2009)