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Neighbors say Osprey landing anything but 'precautionary'

An MV-22 Osprey remained on the ground in a field off of Lejeune Boulevard late Friday after making a precautionary landing Thursday that local residents say included smoke.

Christopher McFarland, of Ellis Park, said he and his wife are used to seeing Ospreys fly over their house because of their proximity to Marine Corps Air Station New River, but the aircraft flying over Thursday evening “sounded a little different.”

“It was definitely an emergency landing,” McFarland said, adding that the plane narrowly missed the tree line in their backyard was smoking on the way down.

Another Ellis Park resident, Deborah Zarinana, said she also saw smoke and felt her house shaking because the plane was so close to the tree line.

“It brushed the top of the trees, the belly of it did. You could see pinecones falling,” Zarinana said. “I was outside with my kids and they were freaking out.”

New River spokeswoman 1st Lt. Kristin Dalton said that the neighbors account was “probably accurate” and that the smoke was the result of “fluid leaking onto hot parts of the aircraft similar to if you spilt oil on a hot lawn mower.”

She said the pilots of the Osprey were prompted by multiple warning lights to land the plane as soon as possible, but could not confirm if the leaking fluid set off the warning lights.

But she added that “just because the aircraft was smoking and there was a fluid leaking does not mean that (the pilots) lost control of the aircraft in any way.”

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“The pilots got a warning indication in the cockpit that required the aircraft to return to base as soon as possible,” Dalton said, adding that the addition of a second warning prompted the pilots to land the plane in the empty field, rather than make the trip back to base.

“Based on follow-on indications, and with safety being the top priority, the pilots made the precautionary landing in an open area,” Dalton said.

Military and civilian police officers quickly responded to the landing site, barricading the area with crime scene tape and calling it “a national security issue.”

Dalton said there were no injuries and the cause of the warning light indications is being looked into, but stressed that “there was no mechanical failure in any way.”

The plane was still in the field Friday evening, and Dalton said maintenance was being performed on the aircraft. She added that “as soon as maintenance crews complete any needed repair and testing, the aircraft will return to New River,” but could not confirm when the plane would be leaving the field.

Rick Murray, the owner of Fast Freddie’s, the bar the Osprey landed behind, said Marine Corps officials told him the plane would be leaving later Friday night. He added that because the plane was tucked behind the tree line and difficult to see from the road, he didn’t think its presence would have any effect on his business.

He said he was “glad everybody is OK.”

The neighboring business, Discovery Church, agreed. Melissa Kennedy, human resources director for Discover, said she thought it was “kind of ironic that the (military) is in the backyard because the heart and mission of our church is to support the military and military spouses.”

She said she hopes the attention given to the Osprey behind their building will draw attention to the church, too.

The Osprey, which flies like an airplane but can take off and land like a helicopter, belongs to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204, according to its markings.

Japanese media who were in North Carolina covering the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, drove to Jacksonville Friday to get a shot of the Osprey, a plane that their officials have heavily criticized after the April 11 Morocco Osprey crash that killed two New River Marines and injured two others.

Multiple Ospreys are currently being deployed to American military bases in Japan, with much opposition from the Japanese, according to multiple reports from The Associated Press

Marine officials say a warning indication led to a Thursday precautionary landing of an MV-22 Osprey.

"The pilots got a warning indication in the cockpit that required the aircraft to return to base as soon as possible. Based on follow-on indications, and with safety being the top priority, the pilots made the precautionary landing in an open area," said New River Air Station spokeswoman 1st Lt. Kristin Dalton.

Military and civilian police officials responded to the landing site, in an empty field behind Discovery Church and Fast Freddy's on Lejeune Boulevard, parallel to the bypass. Jacksonville police handed jurisdiction of the site over to military police officers.

"The cause of the incident is being looked into," Dalton said.

There were no injuries and the aircraft was not damaged in the landing.

The Osprey, which flies like an airplane but can take off and land like a helicoptor, belongs to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204, according to its markings.

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