Osprey aircraft at Auburn-Lewiston Airport on August 5, 2022. Several osprey aircraft have been flying over Portland in the last week, a training exercise for the marine pilots. Photo courtesy of Jacob Twigg

The familiar squawk of gulls along Portland’s waterfront was drowned out at times last week by a different kind of “bird”: The loud buzz of 6000-horsepower engines attached to several V-22 Osprey aircraft operated by the United States Marine Corps.

The aircraft, which arrived at the Portland International Jetport a week ago Tuesday, was part of a routine training exercise conducted by the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 — also known as VMMT 204. The Ospreys began to head back to their home base in New River, North Carolina, on Monday and will continue to do so Tuesday.

“It was a really simple training,” said First Lt. Hudson Sadler, a communications officer for the squadron’s parent unit. “It’s good to get flight training in places that aren’t the same.”

While in Portland, the pilots practiced takeoff and landing procedures, and worked on flying in varied weather conditions. According to Sadler, interstate training is not uncommon for Marine aviators.

“We train in almost every state,” he said. “We’re constantly looking for new places to train to keep the pilots proficient. Not everywhere in the world looks like Eastern North Carolina.”

The training is part of a larger pipeline for prospective Marine pilots. Aviators who have already completed flight training are assigned to training squadrons like VMMT 204 to learn the ins and outs of a specific aircraft before being deployed to an operational unit.

Ospreys are used by the Marine Corps in a variety of roles, including troop transport and supply operations. Unlike other aircraft, Ospreys use a unique tilt-rotor design that allows them to take off vertically. This design allows the aircraft to be used in situations that are challenging for traditional fixed-rotor planes.

An MV-22B Osprey arrives at a Marine Corps station in Okinawa, Japan. Several osprey aircraft have been flying over Portland in the last week, a training exercise for the marine pilots. Photo by Lance Cpl. Jeraco Jenkins/Courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps

“(Ospreys) can take off like a helicopter, and then they can tilt the rotors to go really fast, which allows it to save on fuel and go longer distances,” Sadler said. “We use (Ospreys) for humanitarian aid because we can get supplies around to locations where we don’t have another aircraft in the area to refuel.”

Sadler said operational security-related concerns prevented him from disclosing the number of aircraft in Portland or the squadron’s flight path.

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