High flying with CV-22 flight engineer

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Casey Spang, 20th Special Operations Squadron flight engineer, sits harnessed out the back of a CV-22 Osprey while flying over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M., July 5, 2012. The CV-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turbo-prop aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Casey Spang, 20th Special Operations Squadron flight engineer, sits harnessed out the back of a CV-22 Osprey while flying over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M., July 5, 2012. The CV-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turbo-prop aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Casey Spang, 20th Special Operations Squadron flight engineer, inspects one of the tilt-rotors on a CV-22 Osprey prior to takeoff on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 5, 2012. The 20 SOS conducted a routine training flight over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Casey Spang, 20th Special Operations Squadron flight engineer, inspects one of the tilt-rotors on a CV-22 Osprey prior to takeoff on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 5, 2012. The 20 SOS conducted a routine training flight over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Casey Spang, 20th Special Operations Squadron flight engineer, inspects ammunition prior to takeoff on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 5, 2012. The 20 SOS conducted a routine training flight over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Casey Spang, 20th Special Operations Squadron flight engineer, inspects ammunition prior to takeoff on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 5, 2012. The 20 SOS conducted a routine training flight over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Casey Spang, 20th Special Operations Squadron flight engineer, fires a 50 caliber weapon out the back of a CV-22 Osprey while flying over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M., July 5, 2012. The 20 SOS conducted a routine training flight over Melrose. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Casey Spang, 20th Special Operations Squadron flight engineer, fires an M240 weapon out the back of a CV-22 Osprey while flying over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M., July 5, 2012. The 20 SOS conducted a routine training flight over Melrose. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The 20th Special Operations Squadron conducted a routine training flight over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M., July 5.

The training flight was also part of an orientation flight that gave several members from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., the chance to see what CV-22 Osprey flyers do daily.

Staff Sgt. Casey Spang, 20 SOS flight engineer, was the cabin NCO and aerial gunner during the flight.

"Most people don't realize that flight engineers fill two very different job positions on their assigned aircraft," said Spang. "One engineer will deal with mission management, aircraft performance, time on target and radio navigation. The second engineer focuses primarily on threat detection, communication with crew members, securing any cargo and firing the weapon."

All flight engineers are trained specifically on one airframe. Initial training is conducted at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Students are then sent to secondary locations to train on their specific aircraft assignment.

"The best thing about our job is that we picked it, you don't come into the Air Force assigned as a flight engineer," said Spang. "I'd say that aspect makes the career elite, and being part of Air Force Special Operations Command makes it that much more awesome!"

Flight engineers, along with other aircrew members, deal with physically demanding conditions while working on their craft. Long hours, countless training days and harsh flying conditions prepare these Air Commandos to be battle ready at a moment's notice.

"I love doing what I'm doing for Cannon and AFSOC," said Spang. "I rarely work the same aspect of my job night after night, and nothing compares to the feeling I get flying low-level at 200 miles per hour. This is an amazing way to contribute to our mission here."