Photographer and writer Ed Darack hops in an MV-22 Osprey along with U.S. Marines in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. The action starts in a rocky, remote combat outpost (COP) called the Castle, then switches to a rolling takeoff from a paved airfield at Camp Bastion. The Ospreys then climb over agricultural areas to the Helmand River Valley. As the Tiltrotor reaches altitude, the view through its starboard window shows its engine nacelle switching from the vertical mode used for takeoff to an efficient horizontal orientation for level flight, as the hum of the Rolls-Royce engine changes pitch. Pilots point to a hole in the clouds used as a visual flight reference. As the Ospreys reach a machine gun range, the gunner loads and readies the .50 caliber and blasts away. The Ospreys land at another remote COP before touching down at the bustling Kandahar Air Field in Kandahar City, home to fighters and heavy transports.
Video: Ed Darack (3:52)