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MailTribune.com
  • Since You Asked: Experts offer explanations for odd aircraft sighting

    Options range from V-22 Osprey to air tanker
  • I noticed an unusual aircraft making several passes south-to-north across the valley on Thursday, July 24. It caught my attention because it created the pulsations I associate with a helicopter, yet it looked like a plane. I had my bird-watcher binoculars handy and could see what looked like a small plane with very large prop...
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  • I noticed an unusual aircraft making several passes south-to-north across the valley on Thursday, July 24. It caught my attention because it created the pulsations I associate with a helicopter, yet it looked like a plane. I had my bird-watcher binoculars handy and could see what looked like a small plane with very large propellers. The conspiracy theorist in me is sure it was some kind of government control program, or just Google. What will they let you tell us?!?
    — Anonymous, Central Point
    Local aviation experts offered several possible explanations for the aircraft you saw, ranging from the unusual to the everyday.
    Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport Director Bern Case said the airport does see some small aircraft that make unusual noises, but the plane you describe doesn't sound like something he's seen flying here.
    Several members of the Ashland Airport Commission, which deals with the Ashland Municipal Airport, said the military's V-22 Osprey fits your description.
    It has upright rotors that can lift the aircraft off the ground like a helicopter. Then the rotors can shift into a horizontal position and act like propellers — which look very large in relation to the aircraft's fuselage.
    Commissioner David Wolske cautioned the V-22 Osprey is a military plane rarely seen here, or anywhere, and is almost certainly not the one you saw.
    Commissioner Susan Moen noted the Bell 609 is a civilian version of the V-22 Osprey and is also a tilt-rotor airplane.
    Commissioner Alan DeBoer said a restored DC-3 is in the valley. Launched in the 1930s, the airplanes are driven by propellers.
    A mechanic at Ashland Municipal Airport said with all the wildfires in the area, the aircraft might have been a propeller-driven air tanker.
    Depending on the location of wildfires, they can criss-cross the valley as they make runs to drop fire retardant.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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