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An MV-22B Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, prepares to take flight aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 1. This is VMM-363's first Osprey flight since they converted to a Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron from a Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

Red Lions grow wings for first training flight

2 Nov 2012 | Lance Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363 “Red Lions”, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, began training for the first time aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 1.

The Red Lions recently arrived aboard MCAS Miramar after departing their previous home in Hawaii and transitioning from CH-53E Super Stallions to MV-22B Ospreys.

Red Lions personnel augmented other Osprey squadrons to complete their training aboard MCAS Miramar before they were ready to fly.

“It was my first flight in the fleet and the squadron’s first flight, so it was cool.” said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Ruiz, a crew chief with the Red Lions and a Yucca Valley, Calif., native. “I spent about three months in flight school preparing, and the flight went well.”

The first fully operational flight included confined area landing exercises, during which pilots land the aircraft in an area that is not a runway or smooth surface.

Maintainers and crew chiefs worked hard to ensure the Ospreys were properly functioning and prepared to complete the flight with success, explained Capt. Michael Henson, a pilot with VMM-363, 3rd MAW, and a Gallatin, Tenn., native.

The squadron replaced Marine Medium Tiltrotor squadron 561, which recently deactivated. VMM-363 originally activated as Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.
The Red Lions deployed as a heavy helicopter squadron in early 2012. Upon return, the squadron moved to MCAS Miramar, where they awaited arrival of crew chiefs, maintainers, and aircraft.

The transition went well, even though the squadron was awaiting the necessary manpower, explained Henson.

The squadron plans to train crew chiefs and pilots to fill other squadrons in Okinawa, Japan and Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

The success of the first flight brings the squadron hope that all their endeavors will run as successfully as their first one.