Just over four years after the death of a beloved Marine from Maine, a unique tribute to his life will be displayed this weekend at the Great State of Maine Airshow in Brunswick.

Capt. Benjamin Cross, who grew up in Bethel, died in 2017 during an aviation training accident off the coast of Australia that also claimed the lives of two other Marines. He was 26.

Capt. Benjamin Cross Contributed photo

The tribute will feature a stationary MV-22 Osprey, the aircraft that Cross was in during the accident. It is known for its ability to take off vertically, like a helicopter, alter its configuration in mid-air, and then fly hundreds of miles per hour like an airplane.

Marine Corps Capt. Virginia Cutler, an Osprey instructor pilot in North Carolina, was a member of Cross’ squadron but wasn’t on board the aircraft that crashed. She said she has many positive memories of her friend and has remained close with his family.

“I think of Ben as just having a constant thirst for adventure,” Culter said. “He was always up for something exciting and was willing to do basically anything that would be a great story. He had told me once that he wanted to be a writer kind of later in his life and he felt like the stage he was in now was all about collecting amazing, crazy stories.”

In 2017, the Sun Journal and Portland Press Herald reported that his death shocked the small town of Bethel, and that family and friends, mourning his loss, remembered him as selfless and gifted.

Cross was a 2009 graduate of the Telstar Regional High School, where a football field is named in his memory.

He was laid to rest in Riverside Cemetery in Bethel, the Sun Journal reported.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, between 1991 and 2000, the Osprey’s testing phase, there were six accidents, four of which resulted in 30 deaths. The aircraft became operational in 2007, and between 2010 and 2021, 26 other accidents took place, resulting in 12 fatalities.

The Osprey aircraft that will be on display at the Great State of Maine Airshow this weekend.

Brisbane newspaper Courier-Mail reported at the time that Cross’ aircraft with 26 people on board was about 25 nautical miles off Australia’s east coast, flying from USS Bonhomme Richard to the transport deck of USS Green Bay when it struck the Green Bay and slid into the water.

USNINews reported in 2018 that no one was at fault for the tragedy and that a Marine investigation lay the blame on heavy downwash. Downwash, in this case, is defined as the downward deflection of air from the Osprey’s rotors blades.

While the Osprey has made news for accidents in the past, Cutler said that Ospreys have since logged hundreds of thousands of safe flight hours.

Cutler said that this weekend’s exhibition of an Osprey in Maine is part of a training program along the eastern seaboard.

“These are the sorts of events that we really enjoy doing because we can accomplish the flight training,” Cutler said. “It’s really exciting and satisfying for us to engage with the community and kind of show off what we do.”

Airshow guests can walk inside the Osprey, view a memorial about Cross’ life and meet with Marines. According to Cutler, the Osprey will arrive in Brunswick Friday and be at the airshow on Saturday and Sunday.

The Great State of Maine Airshow is scheduled for Sept. 4-5, with gates opening at 8 a.m. and events starting at 11:30 a.m. The Blue Angels, the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, will also be at the show.

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