EXCLUSIVE: Osprey Takes First Rescue Flight in Ike

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The CV-22 Osprey got its first encounter with a massive storm on Sept. 11 when it joined several other Air Force planes in an effort to rescue crewmen from a freighter ship in the path of the Hurricane Ike in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the end, all the aircraft had to turn back and the ship's crew rode out the storm, said Lt. Col. Stephanie A. Holcombe, director of public affairs for Air Force Special Operations Command.

Two Ospreys, along with an MH-53 Pave Low, an MC-130W and an MC-130 P were ordered to the mission around 11 a.m. on Sept. 11 after getting the report earlier about the stranded oil freighter named Antalina. The mission was launched after the Coast Guard requested Air Force help with the rescue, Holcombe said.

The ship was reported to be floating without power about 12 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas. However, the ship in fact did have power, according to Holcombe. The Air Force planes carried four rescue crews made up of three pararescuemen and a combat controller.

But as the Ospreys encountered winds in excess of 100 miles an hour they had to turn back. Those same winds prevented the Coast Guard from extending its rescue hoists from their own HH-60 helicopters, according to reports, prompting them to ask the Air Force for help.

-- Bryant Jordan

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