Any Osprey Pilots That Could Share Their Experience?

TomB

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As I wait to hear back from USNA admissions, I was wondering if there are an Osprey Pilots out there. I wish to fly the MV-22B Osprey in the Marine Corps whether it be through USNA, ROTC, or OCS after college (understand nothing is guaranteed but I was told the Marine Corps is in need of Mv-22B Osprey pilots and not many take it because of the service time commitment). For those who fly this awesome aircraft, how is your experience? How do you like it? What are some key pointers you could possibly give to an aspiring Osprey pilot?

Thank you in advance for the responses.

Very Respectfully,
TomB
 

Hurricane12

USNA 2012
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Not an Osprey pilot, but know and work with quite a few. My main caveats will be at the end. I deployed on a MEU a while back, where my det was attached to an osprey squadron.

Ospreys are selected out of primary. SNAs first go to South Whiting for an abbreviated helicopter syllabus (2 months). After that, it's over to Corpus for multiengine, where they do almost the entire syllabus (fam, instruments, etc.) which takes 7-9 months or so. Then is when they'll find out their duty station. Ospreys have the most variation in duty stations available out of any TMS: New River NC, Miramar and Pendleton by San Diego, Hawaii, and Okinawa.
Post wings the FRS is in New River and takes 4-6 months.

Fleet life will be busy. Osprey squadrons are split into MEU and SPMAGTF squadrons for what they do for deployment. Each of those has it's own pluses and minuses.
SPMAGTF will be either in the desert (but not as exciting as you think) or in Rota, Spain (but not as exciting or fun as you think), but it's not the boat at least. The MEU is its own form of pain and a constant tease of meaningful work that almost never gets fulfilled. On MEUs (or anywhere, really), Ospreys and 53s and up being cargo/pax pigs for a lot of admin movements. Ospreys deploy on a pretty steady rotation and you could reasonably expect 2-3 deployments within your first fleet tour.
The downside to this is that it can really be a grind. Osprey pilots historically are undermanned in fleet squadrons and so after your 4-ish years in the fleet, you won't necessarily be able to escape to flight school or another cushy non-deploying B-Billet and may be sent to another squadron to do the whole thing all over again. Most of my Osprey friends are pretty burned out by the end of their first tour and looking for ways out of the community (FAC tours with infantry battalions, etc.) even for just a couple years.
They vary on thinking that the flying is satisfying. Some people like it, and I know more than a few that absolutely hate it. The Osprey's "part of the action" is not really as spicy as you may think it is, and there's a lot of flying around in circles waiting for other people to do stuff. That being said, it's a vital role to the MAGTF.
The community is a little odd. The big caveat I'll give here is that I am a Huey pilot, and flying an Osprey is not appealing to me and neither are most Osprey pilots (that skid and assault pilots don't get along is one of the eternal truths of the Marine Corps). In the past, the community was a hodgepodge of former CH-46 "phrog" pilots desperately trying to keep flying, castoffs from other communities, and a couple pure Osprey guys. As time has gone on, there's obviously more pureblood Osprey guys, but it still feels like a group of people trying figure out what they're supposed to be. It's a much more chill environment than skids. The squadron will not have a ton of pilots (more than jets, less than a helo squadron) and so your experience will live and die based on the other pilots in the ready room.

The biggest caveat I will give you is that everything I said could be completely different by the time you're a flight student. When I was looking at flying in the Marines back in high school, skids were doing 7 months on/7 months off rotations to the desert getting crazy amounts of combat time and doing insane stuff. By the time I got to flight school, that was no longer the case. While there's still no where else I'd rather be in the USMC, my life and job are not really what I thought they would be. Stuff changes, and while getting excited about a platform now is good, keep your options open. That's honestly the best advice you could have right now: poke around the internet, read books ("The Dream Machine" is an interesting book about the Osprey's development cycle), and when you get to your commissioning source, ask semi-intelligent questions to every officer about their job. What do they like, what do they not like, what is rewarding/not about their jobs, etc. Think about why they're saying what they are (Don't expect great insight on pilots from a logistics officer or vice versa, for example) and just take it on board for when it comes time to make your decision.
Hope this helps!
 

TomB

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Not an Osprey pilot, but know and work with quite a few. My main caveats will be at the end. I deployed on a MEU a while back, where my det was attached to an osprey squadron.

Ospreys are selected out of primary. SNAs first go to South Whiting for an abbreviated helicopter syllabus (2 months). After that, it's over to Corpus for multiengine, where they do almost the entire syllabus (fam, instruments, etc.) which takes 7-9 months or so. Then is when they'll find out their duty station. Ospreys have the most variation in duty stations available out of any TMS: New River NC, Miramar and Pendleton by San Diego, Hawaii, and Okinawa.
Post wings the FRS is in New River and takes 4-6 months.

Fleet life will be busy. Osprey squadrons are split into MEU and SPMAGTF squadrons for what they do for deployment. Each of those has it's own pluses and minuses.
SPMAGTF will be either in the desert (but not as exciting as you think) or in Rota, Spain (but not as exciting or fun as you think), but it's not the boat at least. The MEU is its own form of pain and a constant tease of meaningful work that almost never gets fulfilled. On MEUs (or anywhere, really), Ospreys and 53s and up being cargo/pax pigs for a lot of admin movements. Ospreys deploy on a pretty steady rotation and you could reasonably expect 2-3 deployments within your first fleet tour.
The downside to this is that it can really be a grind. Osprey pilots historically are undermanned in fleet squadrons and so after your 4-ish years in the fleet, you won't necessarily be able to escape to flight school or another cushy non-deploying B-Billet and may be sent to another squadron to do the whole thing all over again. Most of my Osprey friends are pretty burned out by the end of their first tour and looking for ways out of the community (FAC tours with infantry battalions, etc.) even for just a couple years.
They vary on thinking that the flying is satisfying. Some people like it, and I know more than a few that absolutely hate it. The Osprey's "part of the action" is not really as spicy as you may think it is, and there's a lot of flying around in circles waiting for other people to do stuff. That being said, it's a vital role to the MAGTF.
The community is a little odd. The big caveat I'll give here is that I am a Huey pilot, and flying an Osprey is not appealing to me and neither are most Osprey pilots (that skid and assault pilots don't get along is one of the eternal truths of the Marine Corps). In the past, the community was a hodgepodge of former CH-46 "phrog" pilots desperately trying to keep flying, castoffs from other communities, and a couple pure Osprey guys. As time has gone on, there's obviously more pureblood Osprey guys, but it still feels like a group of people trying figure out what they're supposed to be. It's a much more chill environment than skids. The squadron will not have a ton of pilots (more than jets, less than a helo squadron) and so your experience will live and die based on the other pilots in the ready room.

The biggest caveat I will give you is that everything I said could be completely different by the time you're a flight student. When I was looking at flying in the Marines back in high school, skids were doing 7 months on/7 months off rotations to the desert getting crazy amounts of combat time and doing insane stuff. By the time I got to flight school, that was no longer the case. While there's still no where else I'd rather be in the USMC, my life and job are not really what I thought they would be. Stuff changes, and while getting excited about a platform now is good, keep your options open. That's honestly the best advice you could have right now: poke around the internet, read books ("The Dream Machine" is an interesting book about the Osprey's development cycle), and when you get to your commissioning source, ask semi-intelligent questions to every officer about their job. What do they like, what do they not like, what is rewarding/not about their jobs, etc. Think about why they're saying what they are (Don't expect great insight on pilots from a logistics officer or vice versa, for example) and just take it on board for when it comes time to make your decision.
Hope this helps!
Thank you, that's terrific input!! In the fortunate event I am selected for USNA, I will keep my options open as with ROTC or going through OCS. There is a family friend who essentially gave me the same exact advice as well because things change and you may go a completely different direction from the one you were intending to go. Other aircraft I was interested in were Huey's, Cobra's, Hornets, F-35 (JSF's), and Venom's. This is a powerpoint that gives a light insight into the USMC aviation option:
https://www.mcrc.marines.mil/Portal... Aviation Brief.pdf?ver=2016-08-01-101251-997
It is all rather interesting and exciting. I heard from a few USMC pilots about their experience and they loved it, it is a field I have taken interest in for the USMC. Again thank you for the response and advice!
 

NavyHoops

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@Hurricane12, how sought after are Ospreys in flight school these days? I am old enough that they weren’t in the fleet yet and when they showed up at TBS to take us somewhere we really hoped our stick got put on the smoking 53 or 46 out there in the LZ. I know they have come a long ways since then.
 

TomB

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@Hurricane12, how sought after are Ospreys in flight school these days? I am old enough that they weren’t in the fleet yet and when they showed up at TBS to take us somewhere we really hoped our stick got put on the smoking 53 or 46 out there in the LZ. I know they have come a long ways since then.
I second that question as well. When I went to my CVW senior year, the plebe I was assigned to and I went to see a Marine who was in charge of the concerns of the company I was in at the time and they told me that Osprey pilots are in need by the USMC.
 

Hurricane12

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Again, I selected in flight school almost 5 years ago so things may have changed. Ospreys were NOT desirable or commonly wanted when I went through. Part of this is (and this just Capt Hurricane's thoughts, not related to any official USMC study or anything) is because Osprey pilots were not "allowed" to go to flight school (see above about those guys having to fleet-to-fleet, etc). I think there was one Osprey IP out of all of north whiting when I was an SNA. When I was in primary, there were not even a lot of USMC helicopter pilots, and that almost swayed me (someone who was die-hard helicopters from the get-go) to go jets...because I met a ton of Hornet and Harrier pilots that I thought were cool and could talk to me about their experiences, and didn't meet many helicopter pilots.
Also, most Marines want to fly something that shoots people. Put more delicately, most Marine SNAs believe the line that Marine Air exists to support the groundpounder (because it does), and want to fly something that shoots in support of that. Jets or skids are most people's primary desire in primary. Eventually guys kind of realize that they don't necessarily want jets/don't have the grades, get turned off by the personality of the skid community, or just recognize the importance/value of the assault support platforms and filter into other things. But at the end of the day flying pax/cargo is not necessarily at the top of most people's list.
 

TomB

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My interest in wishing to go the Osprey route is because of a medal of honor recipient: LT Col. Charles Kettles. Heres a link to read about him:
https://themedalofhonor.com/news-an...s-receives-moh-for-daring-vietnam-war-mission
I like the bravery this man displayed in going back for his men and I know Ospreys are used to carry up to 24 other Marines across the battlefield. Ospreys are also used for humanitarian things as well, but the bottomline is that Marine aviators support those on the ground. I know I’m not in the military yet and can’t really say to much about Marine aviation because I have zero experience in it, but it is something I have taken interest in. As with anyone, things may change as time flows along.
 

pleber16

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@Hurricane12, how sought after are Ospreys in flight school these days? I am old enough that they weren’t in the fleet yet and when they showed up at TBS to take us somewhere we really hoped our stick got put on the smoking 53 or 46 out there in the LZ. I know they have come a long ways since then.

I selected a little over a year ago, and just went through the helo advance syllabus last year. There were a handful of my peers who had Ospreys at the top of their lists, but most did not.
 

pilot2b

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I'm a Marine in Primary currently. There are certainly a handful of Marines who want MV-22s. One of my roommates has them at the top of his list. However, there do seem to be a lot more slots open than students who want them. When I first checked in at NAS Pensacola, we were briefed that an estimated 40% of us would be selected for Ospreys. The caveat for this is that selection tends to go in waves for flight school. Right now, if you're a Marine with jet qualifying grades about to select, you're likely going jets. 6 months ago hardly anyone was going jets due to the backup caused by the OBOGS issues. Timing is the most important factor for what you get.

As far as desirability goes, I think Hurricane12 hit the nail on the head with regards to which communities have good representation in primary. There are very few Osprey pilots currently instructing in Primary. One of the new Osprey instructors currently going through the FITU (training for instructors before they actually teach students) told us that the Osprey community is starting to realize that they're being hurt due to this and are making an effort to send more guys from tilt squadrons to instruct at the primary VTs.

There are hardly any Marine jet guys around (none in my squadron). Lots of skid guys, and a surprising number of C-130 guys. The most competitive platform for Marines to get currently is C-130s, mostly because there are so few slots available. Lots of guys desire the lifestyle/chill vibe that Herc guys exude and what they think/hope multi-engine fixed wing time will get them in the civilian world.
 

TomB

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I'm a Marine in Primary currently. There are certainly a handful of Marines who want MV-22s. One of my roommates has them at the top of his list. However, there do seem to be a lot more slots open than students who want them. When I first checked in at NAS Pensacola, we were briefed that an estimated 40% of us would be selected for Ospreys. The caveat for this is that selection tends to go in waves for flight school. Right now, if you're a Marine with jet qualifying grades about to select, you're likely going jets. 6 months ago hardly anyone was going jets due to the backup caused by the OBOGS issues. Timing is the most important factor for what you get.

As far as desirability goes, I think Hurricane12 hit the nail on the head with regards to which communities have good representation in primary. There are very few Osprey pilots currently instructing in Primary. One of the new Osprey instructors currently going through the FITU (training for instructors before they actually teach students) told us that the Osprey community is starting to realize that they're being hurt due to this and are making an effort to send more guys from tilt squadrons to instruct at the primary VTs.

There are hardly any Marine jet guys around (none in my squadron). Lots of skid guys, and a surprising number of C-130 guys. The most competitive platform for Marines to get currently is C-130s, mostly because there are so few slots available. Lots of guys desire the lifestyle/chill vibe that Herc guys exude and what they think/hope multi-engine fixed wing time will get them in the civilian world.
That's interesting, I would have thought more people would like them or jets too. I wouldn't mind flying an Osprey or a Hornet, but then again I'm a civilian and have little to no clue about that field yet. If someone wanted to transfer their skills to the civilian world and besides the fact that Ospreys need more instructors, why wouldn't more select Ospreys? As far as I'm aware, you have to learn the techniques of flying an airplane AND a helicopter which I'm assuming could be transferred to a civilian world. I'm very unsure, I am eager to learn as much as possible from Marine aviators about the field and lifestyle.
 

pilot2b

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The issue isn't that students don't want Ospreys. There are simply a lot of Osprey slots to fill, and proportionally more students wanting other platforms compared to the number of available slots. Keep in mind there are plenty of Marines who, when asked what they want, reply along the lines of "anything gray that says Marine Corps on the side."

The first Navy primary students will be selecting Ospreys very shortly here. It will be much more competitive for them, since it's replacing the C-2. There are fewer of them, Greyhound drivers don't spend any significant time on a ship, and per diem is always a nice touch.

I'd caution you about thinking at this point about how you could potentially take your skills to the civilian world. Talking that way, especially before you're a winged aviator or even a Marine, gives off the impression that you care mostly for what this path can give you and not how you can best serve as a Marine and an officer.

As an aside: Hurricane12 recommended The Dream Machine if you want to learn about how the Osprey came to be. I can second that recommendation. Other books that have to do with Marine aviation that I'd recommend:

Hornets Over Kuwait by Jay Stout
After Action by Dan Sheehan
A Nightmare's Prayer by Michael Franzak
Wing Wife by Marcia Sargent

Books I'd recommend about Naval Aviation more broadly:

Flying Low by Brian K. Bryans
Bogeys and Bandits by Robert Gandt
Hornet: The Inside Story of the F/A-18 by Orr Kelly
Air Warriors by Douglas Waller

Most of these books are a little dated, but might give you a broad overview of naval aviation, and all are very interesting reads.
 
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TomB

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The issue isn't that students don't want Ospreys. There are simply a lot of Osprey slots to fill, and proportionally more students wanting other platforms compared to the number of available slots. Keep in mind there are plenty of Marines who, when asked what they want, reply along the lines of "anything gray that says Marine Corps on the side."

The first Navy primary students will be selecting Ospreys very shortly here. It will be much more competitive for them, since it's replacing the C-2. There are fewer of them, Greyhound drivers don't spend any significant time on a ship, and per diem is always a nice touch.

I'd caution you about thinking at this point about how you could potentially take your skills to the civilian world. Talking that way, especially before you're a winged aviator or even a Marine, gives off the impression that you care mostly for what this path can give you and not how you can best serve as a Marine and an officer.

As an aside: Hurricane12 recommended The Dream Machine if you want to learn about how the Osprey came to be. I can second that recommendation. Other books that have to do with Marine aviation that I'd recommend:

Hornets Over Kuwait by Jay Stout
After Action by Dan Sheehan
A Nightmare's Prayer by Michael Franzak
Wing Wife by Marcia Sargent

Books I'd recommend about Naval Aviation more broadly:

Flying Low by Brian K. Bryans
Bogeys and Bandits by Robert Gandt
Hornet: The Inside Story of the F/A-18 by Orr Kelly
Air Warriors by Douglas Waller

Most of these books are a little dated, but might give you a broad overview of naval aviation, and all are very interesting reads.
Awesome, I definitely will be ordering some of those books as I wait for a response from USNA. In regards to taking the skills I learn into the civilian world, I'm NOT implying that I wish to do the minimum amount of years and then leave. I am not an aviator or a Marine yet, yes, but I do wish to serve in the Marine Corps for as long as I can and make it a career. That's why I am trying to be careful with what I say because I am a young man with aspirations and little to no knowledge. While I was in AFJROTC in high school, my SASI (Senior Aerospace Science Instructor) who is a LT Col. served 17 years in Naval aviation before switching to Air Force and retired with 32 years served in the military. I wish to have a career like this and one that I can enjoy along the way. Again, I'm not in the military and only have the knowledge that other military personnel have been giving me. All I can do is continue to read, write, study, and learn along the way until I hopefully achieve my goal and dream. Thank you for the response, recommendations, and advice!
 

pleber16

USNA 2016
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As far as I'm aware, you have to learn the techniques of flying an airplane AND a helicopter which I'm assuming could be transferred to a civilian world..

Sort of, but not really. An osprey doesn't really function like a helicopter in most regards. The osprey guys do a VERY limited rotary syllabus (I think it's like 13 weeks). They never solo the helo. Conversely, when you finish the helo syllabus and get designated an aviator, you can take the FAA military competency exam, and you'll get your PPL for single engine fixed and rotary wing, as well as a civilian instrument rating for both. I could be wrong but I'm 99% sure the osprey pilots are not automatically afforded the same opportunity after winging, I think they're only able to sit for the fixed wing exam (although they might get a multi engine endorsement out of it as well).
 

TomB

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As far as I'm aware, you have to learn the techniques of flying an airplane AND a helicopter which I'm assuming could be transferred to a civilian world..

Sort of, but not really. An osprey doesn't really function like a helicopter in most regards. The osprey guys do a VERY limited rotary syllabus (I think it's like 13 weeks). They never solo the helo. Conversely, when you finish the helo syllabus and get designated an aviator, you can take the FAA military competency exam, and you'll get your PPL for single engine fixed and rotary wing, as well as a civilian instrument rating for both. I could be wrong but I'm 99% sure the osprey pilots are not automatically afforded the same opportunity after winging, I think they're only able to sit for the fixed wing exam (although they might get a multi engine endorsement out of it as well).
That's interesting, I always assumed that they would need to be qualified to fly both. I got my information mainly from this:
https://www.mcrc.marines.mil/Portal... Aviation Brief.pdf?ver=2016-08-01-101251-997
On training aircraft (SNA) for tilt-rotor, the aircraft listed for training are the TC-12 Huron in NAS Corpus Christi, TX and the TH-57B/C Sea Ranger at NAS Whiting Field Milton, FL. Then again, I have no experience. That's rather interesting to know that they only sit for the fixed wing exam. I'll have to do more research on it I suppose.
 

pleber16

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That's interesting, I always assumed that they would need to be qualified to fly both. I got my information mainly from this:
https://www.mcrc.marines.mil/Portals/95/E-O/Naval Programs/Aviation Information/Marine Corps Aviation Brief.pdf?ver=2016-08-01-101251-997
On training aircraft (SNA) for tilt-rotor, the aircraft listed for training are the TC-12 Huron in NAS Corpus Christi, TX and the TH-57B/C Sea Ranger at NAS Whiting Field Milton, FL. Then again, I have no experience. That's rather interesting to know that they only sit for the fixed wing exam. I'll have to do more research on it I suppose.

An actual tilt pilot would have to weigh in on that, I could definitely be wrong. According to that they can get the rotary license too, I was under the impression they did not because they don't actually do any checkrides in the helo syllabus.
 

Tex232

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Conversely, when you finish the helo syllabus and get designated an aviator, you can take the FAA military competency exam, and you'll get your PPL for single engine fixed and rotary wing, as well as a civilian instrument rating for both.
Unless it’s different for Marine/Osprey pilots, the FAA has usually afforded all military aviators the opportunity to automatically receive a commercial/instrument rating without any kind of a check ride, so long as they can produce their documentation showing they completed military flight training.
 

pleber16

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Unless it’s different for Marine/Osprey pilots, the FAA has usually afforded all military aviators the opportunity to automatically receive a commercial/instrument rating without any kind of a check ride, so long as they can produce their documentation showing they completed military flight training.

My designation letter was enough for the helo side of things, I had to bring in my paperwork from my inst checkride in primary for the fixed wing side of things.
 

Hurricane12

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Unless it’s different for Marine/Osprey pilots, the FAA has usually afforded all military aviators the opportunity to automatically receive a commercial/instrument rating without any kind of a check ride, so long as they can produce their documentation showing they completed military flight training.

I'm pretty sure Osprey guys don't get a helo rating. They can get multiengine, which is arguably more valuable. The mil comp process is pretty smooth, it's just a test. As a helo pilot, I got single engine land/helicopter commercial.
With IP certification (just BIP, or basic instructor pilot in the USMC), pilots can also get a CFI add on.

Osprey flight time is counted as "powered lift." The phrase they always use is that the Osprey is a plane that lands like a helicopter, and that's how its employed. Their flight time being powered lift and not multiengine or whatever doesn't seem to be a huge hindrance in outside employment.
 
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