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Roles in the Corps: Rotary-Wing and Tilt-Rotor Pilots

[Capt Williams]
My current MOS is Tilt-Rotor Pilot, flying the Osprey. It's both a plane and it's a helicopter. It's called a tilt-rotor because it has two nacelles, which has our engines, and our transmissions are actually mounted on the outside of the wing. And you have the ability to move that from the down position, which is the airplane, or you can move them up, you fly it like a helicopter. You have to think as an airplane pilot sometimes and at other times, when you go to land or get low, you have to think as a helicopter pilot. So, you're incorporating all aspects of aviation into one airframe.

Our day-to-day life as an Osprey pilot is, come in early in the morning, you're usually planning for a couple hours, coordinating with whatever ground unit we're gonna go fly with that day. You know, you do a preflight inspection on the aircraft, a walk around. Then you get in, you start up the aircraft and start executing the mission, whatever it is that day. So, we'll go take off as two, three, four aircraft and we'll fly somewhere, we'll pick up troops. And some of it's timed so you have to get 'em in at a certain time, at a certain place. So, that's where a lot of the planning comes in. And we can do that both on the ground and, if the mission changes, we can do a lot of that in the air, in the aircraft.

The way we use the Osprey tactically is you can use it in two different ways: you can take advantage of the airplane aspect of it and you can fly high, so we can go, we can climb really high and we'll have the landing zone marked out on our global positioning system and basically, when we get over it, we do a spiral dive. And then as we're coming down, and to turn, and we're spiraling towards the ground, we actually convert into a helicopter, slow the aircraft down and land. Or, the second option is we'll fly as an airplane but we'll go really low. We'll just be about 200 feet, literally at 200, 220 knots, which is about 250 miles per hour. Once again, convert into a helicopter and land into the landing zone. As long as we can physically fit the aircraft, we can go there. And because it's so powerful, we can carry 24 troops in the back and they can be fully combat-loaded and so we can be a fairly heavy platform. So we have the aspects of both a helicopter and an airplane.

What would I say to someone who is considering coming into the Marine aviation? I would say be willing to work hard, be willing to be there for your troops 'cause you'll spend a lot of time working with your enlisted troops as well as be willing to put in the time to study and hone your skills. You know, I've had a great career. I've really enjoyed being a Marine Officer and being a Marine pilot. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

[Maj Cortes]
I've been a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter pilot for the past fourteen years. I'm the executive officer of HMH 465, Marine heavy helicopter squadron. Our squadron has seventeen aircraft, and we have over 300 Marines. Part of my job, what I do here in the squadron, I make sure the rest of our staff is doing the appropriate tasks in order for us to be an effective fighting unit. Part of my goal is to ensure all of the pilots are combat ready. We do troop inserts, we fly in force, there's mountains out here, we fly over water, either day or night, under the cover of darkness wearing night vision goggles. I want to be an example for my Marines, for my fellow pilots. When I fly that helicopter, I realize that it's more than just flying a helicopter. I'm taking our sons and daughters into harm's way and my responsibility is that they make it home in one piece.

I think that the values I learned in the Marine Corps will stick with me throughout the rest of my life. I understand that being a Marine is not just being in a uniform. It's a way of life.

I feel that serving my country is not something that should be taken lightly. America is safe just one more day because I stood my post like I was expected to.