Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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Spotlight
Centennial of Marine Corps Aviation

Since Alfred A. Cunningham’s first flight as a Marine aviator in 1912, the Marine Corps has earned a reputation for superiority in the skies during warfare. In commemoration of the Centennial of Marine Corps aviation, the Museum opened a new exhibition in cooperation with the United States Marine Corps Museum and hosted several lectures.

The lectures featured an impressive array of speakers representing the legacy of Marine Corps aviation from World War II to present day. Among them were Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, who spoke about his career, Marine aviation's history of innovation, and its role as part of America's Expeditionary Force in Readiness; Senator John Glenn who spoke to an overflow audience about “Earning the Right Stuff as a Decorated Marine Aviator and Navy Test Pilot;” and Gen. Frank E. Petersen who gave an account of the challenges he faced in his career as the first African American Marine Corps pilot. The year-long celebration included the Museum’s director, Gen. J. R. “Jack” Dailey, a Marine aviator himself, who gave a lecture about sacrifice, study, and decisions that defined the Marine Corps mission of battlefield mobility and responsiveness.

Photo: Portrait of John Glenn dressed in flight gear, taken during his flight training in World War II, circa 1943. Senator Glenn was the 2012 Charles A. Lindbergh Memorial lecturer and spoke on Earning the Right Stuff as a Decorated Marine Aviator and Navy Test Pilot.