A local Marine visited the Aiken Municipal Airport for the first time since he left from that same location several years ago to head to boot camp, and he arrived in a type of aircraft that most likely has never landed there before.
The Marine, who was directed by military personnel that his name not appear in the article, dropped by Thursday afternoon during a training mission in an MV 22 Osprey aircraft, which is a tilt-rotor plane that's a combination of a helicopter and fixed wing, according to his father, Ed Evans. Not only was it an unusual occasion for the airport to see such an aircraft but it was also a rare opportunity for Evans to witness his son in action.
It was the first time Evans saw his son fly since he joined the Marine Corps.
“He put so much time and effort into the training,” Evans said. “It's fantastic and exciting to see him realize his dream and to serve his country.”
The Marine grew up in Aiken and after college, he was unsure of what he was going to do. He decided to pursue a military career and has been piloting this type of aircraft since March. He said he had been wanting to land in his hometown for some time and was glad he finally got a chance.
“It was fun. I finally got to do it,” he said, smiling. “It means a lot.”
Much of the airport staff said they couldn't remember an Osprey ever landing in Aiken. That type of aircraft is rarely seen outside a military base.
Line Supervisor Bruce Drew said he's seen many different aircraft, including helicopters, land at the airport, but this was a first. He marshaled the Osprey in and said it was quite an experience.
“It's windy,” Drew said, adding that the draft from an aircraft typically comes off the front but with the Osprey, the wind was blowing all around. “It was pretty neat.”
The airport itself was once a military training base for the Army Air Corps until after World War II, when it was deeded to the City of Aiken. Military planes would drop bags of flour, which simulated bombs, at the base when conducting air raid training.
The Marine only got to stay for a few minutes but said it meant a lot to be able stop by his home, especially in the Osprey.
He will be leaving for Afghanistan some time next year.