This Osprey aircraft, the tiltrotor aircraft that can do vertical takeoffs and landings, was designed to combine the properties of a conventional helicopter with the long range and high speed of a turboprop aircraft. This one is based at Eglin Airforce Base in Florida. The crew brought it to Guntersville for training. Airport manager Matt Metcalfe took the picture.
Osprey crew trains
Its not the kind of osprey people usually see flying around Guntersville.
In years past the birds of prey have built nests in towers around town. But the Osprey V-22 aircraft that was flying around the airport is based at Eglin Airforce Base in the Florida panhandle. Its an unusual aircraft in that it can fly both as a helicopter and a fixed wing airplane.
Matt Metcalfe, the airport manager, said the crew and aircraft are based at Hurlburt Field, which is part of Eglin Airforce Base. For aircraft enthusiasts, it was an unusual opportunity to get an up-close look at the Osprey.
Until recently you couldn’t get close enough to get a picture, Mr. Metcalfe said. Its only in recent years that civilians have been able to get a close look at them.
The Osprey V-22 is a tilt rotorcraft that can do vertical takeoffs and landings. When it’s airborne, the engine nacelles can be rotated so it’s capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight, according to the Boeing website. It can was designed to be used by all military branches and can be used in combat search and rescue and U.S. Special Operations Command missions. It can be stored on an aircraft carrier or assault ship and has air-to-air refueling capability.
Around the airport, the Osprey did low fly-bys, practice landings, hovering and 360-degree hovering turns. The pilots talked with retired Air Force colonel and local seaplane pilot Kenny Cobb through his hand-held aviation radio, Mr. Metcalf said. The pilots said they like training in Guntersville because of the natural beauty of the lake and mountains.
The Osprey and crew did a high-speed low pass over the airport runway in Mr. Cobb’s honor, Mr. Metcalf said.
Jeff McCullars, a Marshall County native and former Coast Guard pilot, said that Osprey V-22 pilots are highly trained. He taught some of the Osprey pilots at helicopter school.
V-22 pilots go through Navy flight school to get both fixed-wing and helicopter training before going to the multi-engine airplane course and then V-22 school.