Ospreys in the Night
Cape Girardeau Regional Airport recently served as a refueling station for a couple of very unusual military aircraft.
Two Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transports had notified us of their intentions to refuel at KCGI on their way from Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico to Andrews Air Force Base in Washington D.C. They arrived at around 5:00am, with their green rotor-tip lights forming eerie green dual halos over each aircraft as they approached in the darkness.
The aircraft combine the characteristics of helicopters and conventional airplanes by rotating the Rolls Royce AE 1107C engines, located on the aircraft's wingtips. Positioned vertically, they allow the Osprey to hover and land vertically like a helicopter. In flight, as the aircraft moves forward, the engines are rotated to the horizontal position, with the rotors then playing the part of massive propellers. The Osprey is then configured much like a regular twin-engine aircraft, and capable of much higher speeds than a conventional helicopter.
Operated by the Marines and Air Force, our two guests were Air Force machines. The large fuel tanks of each Osprey required Lineman Mark Perry to refill our Jet A Fuel Truck before servicing the second aircraft, and then again to ready the truck for the day's normal business.
A short time after their fueling was completed, they departed toward the rising sun, with their engines slowly rotating forward as they left, and their giant props bouncing some very strange echos off the hills north of Scott City!