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Specialized aircraft works out of MCAS
Meet the Osprey - and no, we're not talking about that fish-eating bird of prey.
We're talking about the MV-22 Osprey, a multimission aircraft that is used to transport military casualty, cargo, conduct combat and combat support missions.
It's capable of taking off and landing like a helicopter. It also is capable of short takeoff and landing. Its flying speed goes up more than 200 knots, and that military aircraft is participating here at the Marine Corps Air Station to train prospective students.
"It's a great aircraft and it's a lot of fun to fly," said Capt. Berch Abbott, maintenance function check pilot at MCAS. "This is the future of Marine Corps aviation, the Marines who work on it are excited about this new technology and very excited to put this on the frontlines and get this out there and let us serve the Marines."
Selected local members of the media were given the opportunity to get up-close and go for about an hour ride in the Osprey on Friday afternoon.
Maj. Kirk Nelson, an MV-22 instructor with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron at MCAS, said the Osprey in some instances has been replacing the CH-46 helicopters that are still out on the flight line. The CH-46 is an aircraft used during the Vietnam era.
The Osprey aircraft at MCAS Yuma were brought in from MCAS New River in Jacksonville, N.C.
Nelson will be instructing two students from the East Coast on the Osprey. The students will go through an eight-week course of complex missions and graduate upon completion of the course, Nelson said.
One month of academics and then about one month of flight phase will be included in the course, Nelson said. Once they graduate, they will be sent off to Iraq.
About two years ago, Nelson was the first in his squadron to receive training on the Osprey, which is considered one of the cornerstones of the future for Marine Corps operations.
Nelson said that within 10 or 12 years from now, MCAS will eventually hold more Osprey training courses with at least 10 to 12 students. He said that the Osprey may not be as hard to learn for prospective flight students, whether they are already experienced flying other aircraft.
"It's different learning something, but I always tell people that I was able to do it so it's not that hard," Nelson said.