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Navy to honor first female fighter pilot with first female-piloted flyover at funeral

NORFOLK, Va. – The Navy plans to conduct its first ever all-female flyover to honor the life of a female pioneer in Naval aviation.

The tribute will be part of the funeral service for retired Navy Captain Rosemary Mariner, who passed away on January 24th following a long fight with cancer.

After completing flight training in 1974, Mariner became the Navy’s first female jet pilot, flying the A-4E/L Skyhawk and the A-7E Corsair II.  She also was the first female military aviator to command an operational air squadron, according to a statement from the Navy.

During Operation Desert Storm, Mariner commanded Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron Thirty-Four (VAQ-34). In 1982, she reached yet another milestone by being among the first women to serve aboard a U.S. Navy warship, the USS Lexington, and qualifying as a Surface Warfare Officer.

Mariner retired from the U.S. Navy in 1997 after obtaining the rank of Captain and logging seventeen carrier arrested landings, or “traps,” and completing over 3,500 flight hours in fifteen different aircraft.

The “missing man flyover” – a military term for the aerial salute – features four aircraft flying above the funeral service in formation. During the flyover one of the aircraft leaves the formation and climbs vertically into the heavens, according to the Navy.

All of the aviators participating in the flyover are from squadrons based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana and will be flying F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, the Navy said.

The participants in the flyover will be:

  • Stacy Uttecht, Commanding Officer, Strike Fighter Squadron Thirty-Two (VFA-32)
  • Leslie Mintz, Executive Officer, VFA-213
  • Cmdr. Paige Bloc, VFA-32
  • Cmdr. Danielle Thiriot, VFA-106
  • Cmdr. Jennifer Hesling, NAS Oceana
  • Christy Talisse, VFA-211
  • Amanda Lee, VFA-81
  • Emily Rixey, Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic

The flyover will take place on Saturday, February 2 in Maynardville, Tennessee.

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