Thursday, August 18, 2011

2011 Air & Space Highlights: V-22 Osprey

In July 1992, a leaking gearbox led to a fire in a pre-production V-22, causing the aircraft to drop into the Potomac River killing all seven on board and grounding the aircraft for 11 months.In April 2000, a V-22 filled with 19 Marines to simulate a rescue, attempted to land in Arizona, stalled when its right rotor entered vortex ring state, rolled over, crashed, and exploded, killing all on board. Then a malfunctions in December 2000 caused the V-22 to fall 1,600ft in North Carolina, killing all four aboard, raising the death toll to 30.

But the Marines still refused to abandon it. When they decided to buy a helicopter-airplane hybrid "tiltrotor," they saw it as their dream machine. Many predicted the tiltrotor would reshape civilian aviation and the Marines saw it as key to their very survival. 

Richard Whittle's enthralling narrative reveals how a venerable aviation dream transformed into a nightmare. Whittle began covering the V-22 Osprey program in 1984 as the Pentagon correspondent for The Dallas Morning News. Based on hundreds of interviews, extensive research, first hand flights, and an "embedding" on the first Osprey combat tour in Iraq, Whittle's book, The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey provides impressive insight into the story of the revolutionary tiltrotor troop transport flown by the Marines and Air Force Special Operations Command. 

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 prepares
to land aboard USS Nassau in 2008.

The V-22 began as a multiservice project in 1982 but suffered a series of dramatic setbacks that nearly killed it. By the time the Osprey went into service, its development had taken 25 years and billions over budget. Whittle’s book, praised by military and other reviewers as a skillful depiction of the Osprey’s tortured journey through the labyrinthine defense acquisition process, is captivating narrative explaining how the Marine Corps defied a sitting defense secretary and shrill media coverage to keep the Osprey alive, and why the tiltrotor still might revolutionize civilian aviation. 

Books can be purchased when you register for the conference or on-site in AFA’s Booth on the exhibit floor during the conference! Whittle will be speaking Tuesday, September 20 at the 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition.

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