Celebrating 100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation

Marine Aviation
Marine Aviation

DoD's first production F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter flies toward its new home at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., escorted by Marine Corps F-18 Hornets. The Marine variant of the JSF belongs to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501. The Marines of VMFAT-501 received two F-35Bs Jan. 11. Photo by Staff Sgt Joely Santiago.

Flares are discharged from a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 (HMH-363) during a routine flight operation, Helmand River Valley, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 5, 2012. Marine pilots of HMH-363 utilize flares ensuring the safety of the crew onboard and safe guarding the aircraft while in flight during poor visibility weather. Photo by Sgt Sneden.

(April 11, 2012) – "Flying … means a new and wonderful weapon of warfare, the value of which is not appreciated in this country." – 1stLt Alfred A. Cunningham, 1916

This May, Marine Corps aviation will celebrate its 100th birthday. On May 22, 1912, 1stLt Alfred A. Cunningham arrived at Naval Aviation Camp in Annapolis, Md., to begin aviation training. After only two hours and 40 minutes of instruction, Cunningham took off on the first-ever Marine Corps solo training flight. This flight marked the beginning of the journey of Marine Corps aviation, which has continued to expand over the past century to support ground troops, amphibious landings and assault missions.

Since May 2011, the Marine Corps has highlighted its rich aviation history through the Marine Aviation Centennial with air shows and events around the Corps and recently with the release of a new book, "100 Years of Marine Corps Aviation: An Illustrated History."

The book, published by the Marine Corps and downloadable online, takes the reader on a journey through the history of Marine aviation. The book features rare images and descriptions of the roles Marine aircraft have played in pivotal battles in American history in addition to the people, aircraft and events that have shaped the development of aviation. The book also contains first-hand accounts from Marine aviators, a timeline of aviation history and an overview of each time period in aviation development. As a whole, the book acknowledges and celebrates the importance of aviation as a pivotal element of the Marine Air Ground Task Force and highlights its successful adaptation to ever-evolving warfare tactics.

"For nearly 100 years, Marine Aviation has demonstrated the adaptability, agility and unique ethos that come with the title ‘Marine,'" said Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos. "Supporting our ground and logistics brothers and sisters, Marine Aviation has forged a lasting legacy of professionalism, innovation and transformation. The centennial of Marine Aviation provides us a unique opportunity to reflect on this legacy of success as we turn our eyes to the future."

Be sure to log on to the Marine Aviation Centennial website for information about the book release and future celebration events Corpswide.

Upcoming centennial celebration events:

21-22 April: New Orleans Air Show (Blue Angels performing)

21 April: Thunder Over Louisville Air Show

5-6 May: Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Air Show (Blue Angels performing)

14-20 May: ACE Symposium & Marine Corps Aviation Association Reunion, Washington

19-20 May: Joint Service Open House, Andrews Air Force Base (Blue Angels performing)


Marines Blog is the official blog of the United States Marine Corps and is maintained by Marine Corps News at the Defense Media Activity Marine Corps Element.