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Marine Ospreys visit Peterson AFB

U.S. Marine Corps maintainers assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261) prepare a MV-22 Osprey for high altitude, low visibility landing training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Sept. 12, 2017. Peterson AFB offers a unique combination of altitude and dry climates that are similar to the climate the Marines might encounter while deployed overseas. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Dennis Hoffman)

U.S. Marine Corps maintainers assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261) prepare a MV-22 Osprey for high altitude, low visibility landing training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., Sept. 12, 2017. Peterson AFB offers a unique combination of altitude and dry climates that are similar to the climate the Marines might encounter while deployed overseas. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Dennis Hoffman)

A MV-22 Osprey belonging to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261) takes off from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Sept 12, 2017. The squadron evacuated from their home station at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina in advance of Hurricane Irma. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Dennis Hoffman)

A MV-22 Osprey belonging to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261) takes off from Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Sept 12, 2017. The squadron evacuated from their home station at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina in advance of Hurricane Irma. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Dennis Hoffman)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When Hurricane Irma was threatening to tear up the East Coast, the leadership of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (VMM-261) needed to get their MV-22 Ospreys out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina. The high winds and rain could damage the expensive aircraft and they could be needed for hurricane relief efforts after the storm.

VMM-261’s standard hurricane evacuation location is just outside Nashville, Tennessee. When the forecast models for Irma showed it tracking more westerly than initially thought, Nashville was out of the question for the squadron. They decided to come to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

“With a storm of that size it was hard to predict where it could end up,” said Maj. Scott Harris, VMM-261 executive officer. “With that in mind we put a plan together to get some training done at Peterson AFB.”

“Peterson AFB is a great place as it offers a unique combination of high altitudes with low visibility landing training, and it’s very easy to coordinate with the operations center here, usually all it takes is a phone call,” said Harris.

It’s especially important, because of the Osprey’s unusual tilt rotor operation, to get high altitude training.

“The aircraft performs much differently at 6,000-7,000 feet than it does at sea level, which can make things interesting,” Harris said.

Harris stated that the squadron has come to Peterson AFB several times over the last year, first in preparation for a deployment and now again to escape the hurricane.

The squadron continues to stand ready to deploy to the southern states, if required.

“We’re not tapped to go right now, because half of the squadron is deployed overseas, but we can fill in at a moment’s notice if need be,” Harris said.

The Osprey is ideal for humanitarian relief missions since it doesn’t need a full runway, is more flexible and has less of an impact on local infrastructure, Harris said.

“We’ll head back to North Carolina soon, but always look forward to coming back to Peterson AFB, the relationship between the squadron and Peterson AFB has always been great,” said Harris.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui