MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. --
When people think of mattresses they think of using them to sleep on, but most don’t think about using them for a helicopter to make a quick landing on.
Pilots with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 started up the engine and circled the flight line as they prepared to make an emergency landing on a pile of mattresses in an MV-22 “Osprey” here March 15.
The landing was part of a maintenance training exercise the squadron performs weekly.
The drill involved the aircraft circling about 1,100 feet above the flight line while Marines on the ground prepared a platform of mattresses (beds) the pilots would land the aircraft on in the event of an emergency.
The training simulated what the squadron would do in the event of an MV-22 landing gear malfunction.
Landing on the flight line without the landing gear would damage the aircraft, explained Sgt. Saul Moreno, a crew chief with VMM-161, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force. To avoid that, the aircraft lands on the mattresses instead. In a real event, the pilots would leave the aircraft on the mattresses and the mechanics would work on it from there.
After the platform was set up, the pilots flew the aircraft five feet above the mattresses and about 20 feet above the ground. They adjusted their position according to arm signals that the ground Marines used.
“We took it down to point where we felt that we had accomplished the mission,” said Capt. Robert Biddle, an MV-22 pilot with VMM-161. “You fight how you train. We got everything done that we needed to.”
The Aircraft Rescue Firefighters here also participated in the event. Several fire trucks waited on the flight line in case anything went wrong with the training.
“It’s always good to have them on scene to ensure that everyone is safe,” said Maj. David Lane, an MV-22 pilot with VMM-161. “It’s always good when the team gets together and works well with each other.”
The drill as a whole went well, explained Lane. The squadron was able to practice everything smoothly.
The Marines of VMM-161 continue to set the example of how Marines put safety first and train to ensure they are ready for any situation that may arise.