MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- One hundred and eighty-nine Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aircraft participated in the “Parade of Flight” to celebrate 100 years of Naval aviation, Feb. 12, in San Diego.
Nearly 120 aircraft from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing flew from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and MCAS Yuma, Ariz., to display the Marine Corps’ involvement in Naval aviation.
The massive formation - the largest since World War II - flew over Naval Air Station North Island, the birthplace of Naval aviation in 1911, to the delight of thousands of spectators.
Each aircraft launched in the space of 38 minutes, with 30-second to one-minute intervals. This delicate undertaking required the support of thousands of Marines, from pilots to ground crew.
“It was a total effort from everyone in our squadron,” said Lt. Col. Jason Keefer, the executive officer of Marine Tiltrotor Squadron 161. “[The pilots and crew chiefs] were in the simulators weeks ago practicing for this formation. We all had to come together to make sure the aircraft were up and running for today.”
VMM-161 sent two of its tiltrotor MV-22 “Osprey” aircraft to the parade, where the pilots and crew demonstrated both the hover and straight-flight capabilities of the planes.
Marine Corps aviators, crew chiefs and technicians receive all of their training from the Navy and share a tightly interwoven history of aviation accomplishments.
“We do a lot with the Navy,” said Sgt. Jonathan Harris, a crew chief with VMM-161. “It’s important that we participate in this event because we train together and we deploy together. We share everything.”
In addition to the 3rd MAW aircraft flying in the parade, representatives from The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum were on hand at NAS North Island with aircraft from the museum on static display. More than 75 Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, from all eras of Naval aviation, were on display at the NAS North Island flight line.
The Navy will spend the next year celebrating its centennial with various events and next year the centennial of Marine Corps aviation will begin.
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