USS NIMITZ, At Sea -- The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) received and refueled an MV-22 Osprey, a potential replacement for the C-2 Greyhound, for the first time Oct. 6.
The Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 165, was the first from (VMM) 165 to make a carrier-based landing and was part of an on-going initiative from the Joint Program Manager Air (PMA) 275 office to increase the number of available platforms.
"This was a first for our squadron," said Capt. Patrick Johnson, of VMM 165. "We recently made the switch from helicopters to the Osprey so it was a new experience for most of us."
Johnson embarked Nimitz as a liaison between the pilots of the MV-22 and Nimitz' primary flight control. As the subject matter expert, Johnson was able to provide the Nimitz crew with information about the MV-22 to aid in the recovery of this aircraft.
Since this was the first time the Osprey landed on Nimitz, though similar to standard Navy aircraft, there were some things the flight deck crew had to be mindful of.
"With the Osprey you have to be careful because the 'down-wash' [the air that comes from the aircraft's rotors] is a lot more than a helicopter," explained Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Andre Taylor, a flight deck director on board Nimitz. "This aircraft has a larger landing area so we have to make sure anything around the landing area is secure and make sure everything is out of the way."
Nimitz sent some of its flight deck crew to Marine Corp's Air Station Miramar, Calif., for training on how to handle the Osprey.
"We were taught how to properly chock and chain the aircraft along with how to turn, 'taxi' (move an aircraft without having to use a tractor or a tow bar), and stow it on the flight deck," said Taylor. "Basically, we learned the ins-and-outs of the aircraft. We got inside all of the batteries and oxygen tanks and learned what to look for in case the aircraft crashes and where to go to pull the emergency door in case a fire broke out."
This training played a key part in allowing the Osprey to make its first carrier-based landing on Nimitz and turned out to be a unique experience for the crew.
"We all took turns landing the aircraft because it was something new that we had never seen," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Ricardo Camposflores, a flight deck leading petty officer on board Nimitz who assisted with the Osprey landing. "We all got a chance to learn something new from this landing."
Landing the Osprey will be another memory Nimitz' crew will be able to add to the long history of the ship.
"I will remember this experience for a long time," Taylor smiled. "I was more excited than I was nervous. It's a different feeling. Most people don't get a chance to be a part of these experiences."