VMM-365 flies the barn
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron HMM-365 conducted the largest Osprey flight in the squadron history
US Marine Corps, February 27, 2013 - Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. By Cpl. Martin R. Egnash - Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 conducted the largest Osprey flight in the squadron’s history, Feb. 20.
The squadron flew all 10 of its operational MV-22B Ospreys at the same time in what is referred to as ‘flying the barn.’
“It’s slang to call an aircraft hangar a barn,” said VMM-365 Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger. “When you fly every one of your aircraft, we call it flying the barn.”
The previous largest flight the squadron conducted included a total of seven aircraft in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Harshberger said the reason for such a large flight was to prepare for a possible upcoming deployment in the future, where the squadron may have to fly their own aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Unless you are deploying on a (Marine Expeditionary Unit), you usually don’t fly your own aircraft, so we wanted to make sure everybody would be prepared for a long flight and all the aircraft were in good working order,” he added.
Harshberger said another reason for conducting a training operation on this scale was for morale.
“Being a part of something like this is a source of pride for our whole squadron,” said Harshberger. “Almost the entire squadron was involved in some way. Whether flying in the air or assisting indirectly, flying all our aircraft together in a single formation was a group effort.”
More than three dozen crew chiefs actively flew during the flight.
“I’m proud that I get to play a part in all this,” said Sgt. Chad Tompkins, VMM-365 Osprey crew chief. “We work hard and we work as a team here. It’s a good feeling when your hard work is acknowledged and the command has enough faith in all of us to take out every one of our aircraft, and fly them at the same time.”
The VMM-365 Marines faced obstacles along the way to make this historic flight possible.
“Whenever we fly in a formation, crew chiefs have to be watchful for the other aircraft positions,” said Tompkins. “The difficulty rises with each aircraft because there’s more to look out for and more potential problems. I flew in the lead aircraft, so it is especially important that we are in a good position, because all the other aircraft base their positions on us.”
Six of the 10 aircraft flew for more than six hours, stopping only once to perform a tactical landing.
“In addition to giving us extra training, we did it to prove that we could,” said Harshberger. “Seeing 10 Ospreys landing in close proximity to each other at the same time is an impressive sight.”
To keep the Marines in the air, six of the Ospreys conducted air-to-air refueling with two KC-130 Hercules with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
“One of the primary reasons we utilize the Osprey is its ability to refuel while in the air,” said Harshberger. “The only limiting factor in how far or long they stay in the air is its crew.”
On the flight back to the Marine Corps Air Station New River, each aircraft flew half a mile behind each other. This created a five-mile chain of Ospreys flying together.
“Nothing says America like 120,000 shaft horsepower flying through the air,” said Harshberger.
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VMM-365 Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 US Marine Corps