VMM-161 breaks-in new training asset

VMM-161 breaks-in new training asset

27-Oct-2011 Source: US Marine Corps

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Swirls of dust flew up around a Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 MV-22B Osprey as it landed upon newly constructed landing pads during a confined area landing exercise Oct. 29 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Col. Patrick Gramuglia, the Marine Aircraft Group 16 commanding officer, made an appearance during the training to express his gratitude for the efforts of the 16 Marines from Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 who spent more than three weeks clearing the area and constructing the two new landing pads.

“The landing pads are exceptional,” said Gramuglia. “The workmanship and what they will allow our MAG to do with training will really help us out.”

The pads serve as a way to give pilots a visual of the ground at all times while cutting down on the amount of dust encompassing the aircraft which can lead to maintenance problems. By cutting down on dust the landing pads also increase safety by eliminating the “brown-out” effect, which blocks visibility of the terrain with clouds of dirt and dust as pilots are landing.

“This is a long process,” said Staff Sgt. Jaydin S. Keo, a heavy equipment staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge with MWSS- 374 and a Modesto, Calif., native. “Our initial site survey showed rough terrain and a lot of dirt that needed to be moved. There were a lot of man-hours involved to get us where we are today.”

Since returning from Afghanistan in March, Keo has completed four helicopter landing zones, and explained each site is a new beast with different terrain, weather and time restraints.

The airfield was designed to cover virtually every mission essential task that a [Marine Wing Support Squadron] does in a deployed environment in a very short period of time, including the creation and destruction of a forward operating base, explained Lt. Col. Scott R. Johnson, the commanding officer of MWSS-374.

These new landing pads kicked off their role as the latest 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing training assets by serving as a good practice arena for the aircrews of VMM-161 who could be called on to conduct confined area landings on terrain similar to this in Afghanistan.

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