Flying Leatherneck Centennial

The Marine Corps celebrated 100 years of marine aviation with a sunset aerial pass-in-review over the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. “From one generation to the next, marine pilots pass down their legendary fighting spirit,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, honoring aviators at the May 16 observance. “For nearly 100 years, marine aviation has demonstrated the adaptability, agility, and unique ethos that come with the title “marine,'” underscored Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos. The treetop fly-past of every aircraft type in current service illustrated the aviators’ enduring dictum: “If you are not getting mud on your windshield, you’re flying too high,” said Panetta. A clattering hoard of helicopters—a CH-53, CH-46, AH-1W, and UH-1N—closely trailed by a KC-130J tanker and V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, led a tight formation of jets, including an AV-8, EA-6B, and two F/A-18s, saluting the first flight of marine aviator 1st Lt. Alfred Cunningham on May 22, 1912. (AFPS report by SSgt. Amaani Lyle)