It wasn't an emergency landing, but a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey recently experienced a mechanical issue that caused the pilot and several others onboard to land at Baldwin County Regional Airport.
They were there for several days until repairs could be made, according to Bruce Hood, general manager of Sinclair Aviation, which manages day-to-day operations at the local airport.
He said the pilot never declared an emergency.
The pilot was alerted by a warning sensor that something was wrong, Hood said.
“The helicopter was traveling from North Carolina to Arizona,” Hood told The Union-Recorder during an interview Wednesday morning. “They were all active-duty Marines. When the aircraft got close to Milledgeville, it developed a vibration sensor in one of its rotors and the pilot decided to land here at our airport as a safety precaution.”
Once they landed, some of the crew members did some troubleshooting.
“We loaned them some tools to do their troubleshooting,” Hood said. “They ended up calling in a second unit to come help them. They later found out they had a bigger problem than they originally thought, so they had to actually remove the rotor on the right-hand side of the aircraft and replace a few parts before they could get that aircraft repaired and flying again.”
During that time, they had numerous other MV-22s fly in with support equipment to repair the bad rotor. Other mechanical and technical support personnel arrived to help make the necessary repairs.
Hood said he talked with the commander of the squadron and asked if it would be OK if he called a couple of people from Qarbon Aerospace in Milledgeville to come out and take a look.
“They were ecstatic about that idea and told me to bring them on out to the airport,” Hood said.
Several people from the company that happens to manufacture parts for the MV-22 Osprey came out and toured the aircraft.
“And I thought that was a wonderful thing,” Hood said.
Gifts of appreciation were presented to personnel by Matt Grubb, one of the officials at Qarbon Aerospace.
“You could tell it really meant a lot to those who received those trinkets,” Hood said.
Several local residents also came to the airport to see the helicopters, he recalled.
The aircraft remained grounded for nearly a week.
“During that time, the 16 active-duty Marines stayed at motels in Milledgeville,” Hood said.
And so did several others who came in to work on the Osprey.
Hood said Sinclair Aviation also loaned them its courtesy SUV so they could journey back and forth from the motel to restaurants and back to the airport.
“We were more than glad to assist them in any way we possibly could,” Hood said. “We took the opportunity here at Sinclair Aviation on two different occasions to feed them. We fed them Jersey Mike sub-sandwiches one day, and another day, we fed them pizza.”
Before they departed the airport earlier this week, Hood recalled them saying that of all the places to break down, Milledgeville was probably one of the best places it could have happened because of the warm hospitality they received.
“It wasn't just from us here at Sinclair Aviation, it was from our community at-large,” Hood said. “It was really nice to help them in their time of need because they have always been first to help our country in time of need.”
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