The warbird flew in low, following easy-to-spot landmarks. It hovered for a moment before landing in a clearing in the middle of the heavily populated city. And then the Marines stepped out.
This was no assault, but rather the kickoff of a week-long show-and-tell on Boston Common by the Marines, armed with smiles and handshakes.
The Marines deplaned from a MV-22 Osprey, a unique tilt-rotor aircraft that can take off and land as either a conventional fixed-wing aircraft or a helicopter.
"Because our bases are concentrated in remote, or out-of-the-way places, we don't have a lot of opportunities to do these kinds of public outreach events, to showcase what we can do as American's 911 force,'' said Marine Colonel Steve Brodfeuhrer, an Osprey pilot, before leaving Hanscom Air Force Base.
Faneuil Hall, Copley Place, and the Charlestown Naval Yard will also host events by the Marine Corps throughout the week. Approximately 600 Marines will be in the city this week, volunteering at food kitchens and community parks, and hosting other events in an effort to bring more visibility to the Marines and foster interest in the corps.
The Osprey was one of four aircraft that touched down at the Common today, drawing crowds of curious onlookers. Those spectators were allowed to view it up-close.
The Osprey has been dogged by design problems and political controversy. During the administration of the first President George Bush, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney tried to cancel the program entirely, but was overridden by Congress.
The aircraft has been labeled a "widow maker'' because of its history of accidents. Deployments were halted by the Pentagon in 2000 after crashes killed 23 Marines. The aircraft underwent design upgrades and was first deployed to a combat environment in 2007 when one unit was sent to Iraq.
Last month, a US Air Force variant used to transport special forces crashed in Afghanistan, killing three servicemen and a civilian, officials have said. The Air Force version costs $89 million apiece, according to the Air Force website.
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