NEW BERN, N.C. --
Generations of naval aviators and current members of the aviation community gathered at the New Bern Convention Center to share visions, experiences and traditions during the 45th Annual Marine Corps Aviation Association Symposium and Marine Aviation Summit.
More than 800 active duty, reserve and retired Marines attended the event in the historic town of New Bern. Deputy Commandant of Marine Corps Aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis joined members of the aviation community and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to discuss the future of Marine Corps aviation and the steps the Corps is taking to reach its goals.
The event is the second time the Aviation Summit and the MCAA have hosted their gatherings in one location simultaneously. Both organizations play a key role in Marine Corps aviation as they combine decades of aviation experience with the advances in tactics and technology.
“The MCAA is the counterpart to the Marine Corps Association,” said Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Stalder, national commander of the MCAA. “Our primary membership is for members of the aviation community from all entities such as maintenance, supply, pilots, enlisted aircrew, and anyone involved in the community.”
The organization welcomes both retired and active duty personnel and hosts service-wide awards annually. The awards program highlights the top squadrons, leaders, achievements and more within the Marine Corps.
“There are multiple operational advisory groups that get together every year to discuss Marine Corps aviation,” said Col. Michael Legens, the head of Aviation Manpower and Support Branch with Headquarters Marine Corps. “The Aviation Summit provides a way to consolidate and gather expertise to one location to not only accomplish those advisory group requirements, but to also share experiences and information.”
According to Legens, as a result of combining the events, Davis was given the opportunity to provide his vision for the future of Marine Aviation and brief the initiatives that the Marine Corps is working toward. Members of the aviation community were briefed on short-term and long-term goals, how the community is improving and what they can do better in the future.
Davis confirmed that Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point is still slated to become the home of the largest F-35 B Lightning II fleet across the Marine Corps with approximately 94 jets.
According to Stalder, the event allows the sharing of the old experiences with a new generation of aviators.
“The summit is primarily focused on the active duty, reserve and, current aviation initiatives, but the MCAA houses all the retired and corporate knowledge from the past together. When you put those two together, you get a detailed vision on what the Corps is trying to achieve in the future and the steps they are taking to get there,” said Legen. “ The MCAA’s tie to corporate America gives corporations the opportunity to hear and engage young Marines and operators out in the fleet. It’s an opportunity to expose what’s there and gives an opportunity to see some of what their products, like the F-35B Lightning II, are accomplishing.”
The event also featured more than 20 industry exhibits for attendees to experience.
Marine Corps aviation is a long-standing legacy that has constantly evolved through the decades. All members of the aviation community hold key roles in the success of tomorrow’s aviation and will pave the road for future aviators.