Pilot reaches historic milestone with 2,000 flight hours
US Marine Corps, May 29, 2013 - MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif., 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing by Lance Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenne - Very few pilots have flown more than 2,000 hours in the MV-22B Osprey but, Lt. Col. Eric Garcia, commanding officer of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163, became the third Marine to reach this milestone aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., May 23.
“I never really thought anything of it until this week,” said Garcia, a Las Cruces, N.M., native. “But, without all the Marines working on the birds to keep them flying, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Garcia transitioned from the CH-46E Sea Knight to the Osprey in 2003.
He began flying the MV-22 with Marine Tiltrotor Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22, then moved to VMM-263 and VMM-261 before arriving at VMM-163. While with VMM-263, Garcia worked to transition the unit to an Osprey squadron and served as the Marine Aircraft Group 16 MV-22B transition officer.
His time as a test pilot and experience with the tiltrotor platform contributed to his ability accumulate enough hours to accomplish such a milestone.
Most pilots in the Osprey community are impressed when pilots have more than 200 flight hours because aircraft are still relatively new in the Marine Corps, explained Maj. Matthew Baldwin, the operations officer with VMM-163. It is almost unheard of for an Osprey pilot to have more than 2,000 flight hours.
Garcia has personally accumulated more flight hours than the squadron’s oldest aircraft, which has about 1,500 hours logged, added Baldwin.
During his entire time flying helicopters, Garcia has flown more than 3,200 mishap free flight hours and acknowledges his Marines efforts are the reason for his success.
“For every hour I fly, the maintainers have to do (more than 20 hours) worth of maintenance on the aircraft,” said Garcia. “They kept them going so the other pilots and I could fly.”
Marines are constantly trying to move forward and keep improving. Garcia has dedicated his career to helping the Marine Corps transition and become more ready to fight for freedom.
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VMM-163 Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 US Marine Corps