Asheville native part of first all-female flyover honoring naval aviation pioneer

    Naval aviators participating in a flyover to honor the life and legacy of retired Navy Capt. Rosemary Mariner pose for a photo in a hangar bay at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Jan. 31, 2019. The U.S. Navy is scheduled to conduct the first ever all-female flyover Feb. 2 in Maynardville, Tennessee as part of the funeral service for Mariner, a female Naval aviation pioneer. Back row, from left to right: Lt. Christy Talisse, Lt. Emily Rixey, Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Hesling, Lt. Kelly Harris, Lt. Amanda Lee. Front row from left to right: Lt. Cmdr. Danielle Thiriot, Cmdr. Stacy Uttecht, Cmdr. Leslie Mintz, and Lt. Cmdr. Paige Blok. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Maddocks/Released)

    The Navy reports an Asheville, North Carolina, native helped to honor the life and legacy of a female pioneer in naval aviation.

    Lt. Kelly Harris participated in the first-ever all-female flyover on Feb. 2 in Maynardville, Tennessee. Officially referred to as a "missing man flyover," the tribute was part of the funeral service for retired Navy Captain Rosemary Mariner, who passed away on January 24, following a long fight with cancer.

    Harris is a 2010 graduate of Brevard College majoring in Criminology. She was commissioned as an Ensign in October 2013 through Officer Candidate School in New Port, Rhode Island. She was designated a naval flight officer in March 2016. she flew 25 combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria earning an Air Medal. Harris has flown over 500 hours in the F/A-18F with 100 carrier arrested landings, the Navy said.

    After completing flight training in 1974, Mariner was designated a naval aviator and received her Wings of Gold to 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 achieve command of an operational air squadron. 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 females to serve aboard a U.S. Navy warship, 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 is a special tribute honoring the service of aviators who have died serving their country. The maneuver features four aircraft flying above the funeral service in formation as one of the aircraft leaves the formation and climbs vertically into the heavens.

    All of the aviators who participated in the flyover are from squadrons based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana flying F/A-18E/F “Super Hornets.”

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