Foxtrot Alpha has a terrifying image showing a heroic crew trying to keep a stricken Osprey flying during the most recent fatal incident this aircraft has seen:
This image from the Marine Corps shows a deadly event that occurred on October 1 last year. The crew flew the Osprey in maintenance mode by accident, which greatly reduced engine power output. The harrowing story of heroics and the loss of a young Marine’s life, is a must read in this article by the San Diego Union Tribune.
After taking off and quickly losing altitude, the pilots stayed with the aircraft while the two crew chiefs bailed out the back. Only one survived. Even the survivor barely made it, as he was weighted down by his flack jacket, wearing a semi-defective life preserver and covered in jet fuel. Meanwhile, the pilots continued to dump fuel while the aircraft struggled partially submerged.
Finally, after porpoising in and out of the water and struggling for ten minutes, the Osprey began to gain altitude. The pilots chose to put it abruptly back on the ship’s deck while fuel continued to be dumped from its tanks, running from the aircraft abruptly after touchdown for fear that the Osprey’s hot exhaust would ignite the fuel on the deck.
These aircraft sound far more dangerous than I initially thought. While on some level I understand why the Osprey is important to the military and the additional capabilities it brings to the table. But considering the number of fatal incidents it has been involved in, it sure seems like a lot of unnecessary risk.