CV-22 flight engineers get ready to roll

The CV-22 will make its home at the 8th Special Operations Squadron this month. The tilt-rotor aircraft combines vertical take-off, landing and hover capabilities and will conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions. (Courtesy photo)

The CV-22 will make its home at the 8th Special Operations Squadron this month. The tilt-rotor aircraft combines vertical take-off, landing and hover capabilities and will conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions. (Courtesy photo)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla -- The 8th Special Operations Squadron has two flight engineers who have been instrumental in getting the squadron ready to roll on the new CV-22 format, mission and aircraft.

Senior Master Sgt. Scott Marston and Tech. Sgt. Chad Ackman are currently the only flight engineers currently with the 8th SOS.

During the 8th SOS transition from Duke Field to Hurlburt, Sergeant Marston handled the behind-the-scenes work as the operations person in the 16th Special Operations Wing, Detachment 1.

"At the beginning of the year, I became responsible for setting up the communications in the new facility, arranging life support, the budget, tactics and airspace, among other things," said Sergeant Marston. "It was important to get everything set up for the site activation task force."

Sergeant Ackman's responsibilities included standing up the shop after it moved from Duke Field to the 20th SOS building.

"We've both been dealing with more than the normal additional duties," said Sergeant Ackman. "But it's worth it, getting everything set up so that when the plane arrives, we can hit the ground running. The people of the 20th SOS have been awesome. They've really helped us out a lot."

In between the numerous tasks required for the new mission, aircraft arrival and the squadron move, they've had to return to Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. for training to keep current.

Both sergeants have backgrounds in aircraft and helicopters, and have been working the CV-22 program for years.

Sergeant Marston has spent the past three years flying with the Marines at Marine Corps Air Station New River, flying the MV-22 with the VMX-22 squadron.

Between the two men, their years of experience are proving invaluable. Sergeant Marston was with the 15th SOS on the MC-130H and Sergeant Ackman was with the 20th SOS on the MH-53 PAVE LOW.

"The questions I can't answer when it comes to certain aspects on the CV-22, Sergeant Marston can," Sergeant Ackman said. "We work really well together."
Right now, they're concentrating on the arrival of the CV-22 and the air power demonstration that will occur prior to the multi-tiered celebration.

"We're integrating with the wing to make sure we fit in," Sergeant Marston said. "Sergeant Ackman and I have been working with current operations, the operations group and different squadrons."
"It's a lot of work making sure all the regulations are covered," Sergeant Ackman said. "No one understands the animal, so we're trying to make it simple for them."

After the aircraft arrives at Hurlburt, the next step for the two FE's is gearing up for the cold weather operational utility evaluation of the CV-22 that will take place in Alaska within the next month.

"It's called a 'cold soaking' - we'll be testing the avionics systems, making sure they function properly, conducting engine run tests while it's on the ground and performing other various operations checks," Sergeant Marston said.

The sergeants will also perform cold weather hoists, test support equipment and fly missions using night-vision goggles. The separate maintenance teams will have a battery of tests to perform on the aircraft as well. The special tactics personnel are looking forward to working with the 8th SOS when the CV-22 gets to Hurlburt.

The FE's have also spent time with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, working with them on a new weighted rope to be used for fast-roping from the CV-22.

"I want to see how it works operationally," said Master Sgt. Brady Armistead, 720th Operations Support Squadron superintendent of weather operations. "It will be interesting to see how the new heavier rope works for fast-roping and how much dust it actually kicks up."

The 8th SOS FE's are anxious to start working with special tactics.

"It was great to work with the 23rd STS, they're really excited about it," Sergeant Marston said. "The teams will like it (CV-22) once they get on it."