By Sgt. Michael Thorn, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 "White Knights" conducted confined area landings between Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, June 8.
The CAL training ensured that the pilots and crew chiefs maintained the basic flight fundamentals, according to Capt. Christopher Conklin, an Osprey pilot with VMM-165, and a Redding, California, native.
“[CAL training] is extremely important because it is the most critical phase of flight,” said Conklin. “There’s a lot of mission planning that goes into our flight, but the most important part is actually putting the aircraft down into the zone safely so the Marines on board can disembark and act on their objective.”
Those who trained with Conklin flew to the north side of Camp Pendleton to increase their landing proficiency in a multitude of terrain types.
“A lot of the landing zones weren’t as sandy as some of the places we’re used to,” said Cpl. Eric Weltch, a crew chief with VMM-165, and a San Diego native. “We’re testing out some new zones that we’re not accustomed to.”
These newer landing zones also provided the type of environment needed to help train the pilot and crew in reduced visibility landing (RVL) training, said Weltch.
“Anything that limits our visual reference to the ground, whether we’re landing in a sandy area or a snowy one would be considered a reduced visibility landing,” said Weltch. “This training keeps us consistent and to the point where it becomes second nature.”
According to Conklin, maintaining both the CAL and RVL training ensures overall mission success for the squadron.
“It’s important to continually train to stay on top,” said Conklin. “This is something that needs a lot of repetition to truly be proficient.”