A U.S. Marine Corps aircraft's powerful propellers whipped up a wind that sent branches hurling off a tree and into a crowd of about 150 people watching a Memorial Day demonstration in a park, leaving 10 people with cuts and other minor injuries, officials and a witness said.
As the Osprey MV-22 aircraft landed at Staten Island's Clove Lakes Park at around 9 a.m. Monday, the wind generated by its twin rotors stirred tree limbs, dirt from a nearby baseball field and other debris into a swirl that sent spectators scattering, witness Ann Hirsch said.
"It was like a storm of sand and garbage and people running," said Hirsch, 66, of Staten Island. "Branches just came down. They were all over the park. ... It was really scary."
One tree lost all its branches on one side, photographs from the scene show.
The MV-22 is a Marine Corps version of the V-22, which combines airplane-like wings with rotors that let it take off and land vertically. It "stirs up a lot of wind, and that's apparently what did it," Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Josh Diddams said.
Seven people were taken to a hospital for observation; five of them were released within about two hours, Navy officials said in a release. Three other people refused medical attention for their injuries, firefighters said.
A joint venture of Boeing Co. and Textron Inc.'s Bell Helicopter, the V-22 is designed to carry 24 combat troops and fly twice as fast as the Vietnam War-era assault helicopters it was designed to replace.
The Osprey program was nearly scrapped after a history of mechanical failures and two test crashes that killed 23 Marines in 2000. But development continued, and the aircraft have been deployed to Iraq.
While the General Accounting Office questioned the V-22's performance in a report last year, the Marine Corps has called it effective.
Monday's demonstration was part of Fleet Week, an annual military showcase in New York.