Fleet Week NYC 2010: Taking A Ride On An Osprey
By Laura Ingle, FOXNews.com
Reprinted With Permission
PHoto: USMC by Cpl. Bobbie Harris
Today our Fox News team was invited to climb aboard an incredible aviation invention known as the "Osprey" during Fleet Week celebration here in New York City. The Osprey, or V-22 as it's known, takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like a plane with it's tilt-rotor design. The combat aircraft is being used currently by the U.S. Marine Corp. in the mountains of Afghanistan, has been used in the deserts of Iraq, and was also utilized to lift aid and resources to Haiti, which required fast in and out humanitarian missions. The V-22 is being used by The U.S. Air Force as well.
There has been a bit of controversy surrounding the production and use of this aircraft. There have been several crashes, some of them deadly, and the costs to build the V-22s skyrocketed and nearly derailed the program.
But engineers and designers pressed on. The Osprey can be extremely effective in military combat, because of its speed and sound, and many Marine Corp. pilots will tell you, its speed and capabilities are tough to beat. The Osprey gives Marine Corp. Air Ground Task Force troops increased flexibility and reach that you just couldn't get with the CH-46 helicopters, which are being phased out of combat service. Usually, you can hear a helicopter coming from a mile away but since the Osprey can fly high like a plane, it can get closer to a target without being heard. It can then convert to a helicopter type craft, and lower down, getting troops in place and ready to engage, giving the enemy little time to react.
Our team today included Fox News producer Mike Sorrentino, cameraman Tommy Chiu, and audio technician Melvin Davis. After a short briefing, (and a lot of anticipation with the weather that stalled our departure) we watched the Osprey come in for a landing at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport. All of us were craning our necks around the building waiting to get our first glimpse of the hovering beast that looked like a U.F.O. when it finally appeared and slowly sank down out of the gray sky in front of us.
After loading into the back ramp that was lowered down like a shipping dock, we got into positions wearing our helmets, goggles and life vests. We strapped into our jump seats and waited to feel the movement of takeoff. At first, it was a nice familiar feeling of lifting up and off, watching the helipad become smaller and smaller out of the big gaping hole that was our window. But when the tilt-rotor blades lowered down from helicopter mode into turbo prop mode (which happens in 12 seconds flat), it was like being in a Corvette when someone puts the pedal to the metal. The g-force was amazing and sudden, and I think all of us felt like little kids on a roller coaster ride for a few minutes. Then, looking out the back hatch (that yes, remains open during flight) we could see the horizon turn from horizontal to vertical ... a view of water turned to sky. It was fast pitching movement, that most (hopefully) don't experience while on a plane.
The V-22 can fly twice as fast as the CH-46 helicopter it's replacing, can carry 3 times the payload, and fly 5 times the range. Another cool thing, with the Osprey's vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, pilots never need a runway!