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Meet the flyers who will honor female naval aviation pioneer

Posted at 1:50 PM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 17:12:45-05

NORFOLK, Va. (NAVY) – Meet the women aviators who will perform the first ever all-female flyover to honor the life and legacy of a female pioneer in Naval aviation, retired Navy Captain Rosemary Mariner, who was the Navy’s first female jet pilot, flying the A-4E/L “Skyhawk” and the A-7E “Corsair II.”

The eight women will conduct a “Missing Man Flyover,” this Saturday, Feb. 2 in Maynardville, Tennessee as part of the funeral service for retired Navy Captain, Rosemary Mariner, who passed away on Jan. 24 following a long and brave fight with cancer.

Captain Rosemary Bryant Mariner / Photo: Smithsonian Institute


‘A badass pilot’: Capt. Rosemary Mariner, first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet, dies

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

LT Emily “Gong” Rixey
Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic
LT Emily “Gong” Rixey graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2012 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. She flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet and is a graduate of the Navy’s premier Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). Upon graduation she reported to Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic where she currently serves as a Striker Fighter Tactics Instructor. photo: U.S. Navy


LT Kelly “Ston’er” Harris
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213
LT Kelly C. Harris is a 2010 graduate of Brevard College. She commissioned in October 2013 through Officer Candidate School in New Port, Rhode Island and was designated a naval flight officer in March 2016. In December 2017, Harris was assigned to her first fleet squadron, VFA 213 where she deployed on the USS George H.W. Bush. She flew twenty-five combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria. LT Harris has flown over 500 hours in the F/A-18F and has 100 carrier arrested landings. photo: U.S. Navy


CDR Leslie “Meat” Mintz
Executive Officer, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213
CDR Leslie “Meat” Mintz graduated from the University of Virginia in 2000 with a B.S. in Systems Engineering. She earned her wings of gold in 2002 and flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet. She completed Navy Fighter Weapons School training (TOPGUN) and has deployed multiple times in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. CDR Mintz has over 2,800 flight hours. photo: U.S. Navy


LCDR Paige “PUFN” Blok
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32
LCDR Paige “PUFN” Blok graduated in 2007 from the United States Naval Academy with a degree in Oceanography. She earned her Wings of Gold in August of 2009 and has flown both the F/A-18C Hornet and F/A-18F Super Hornet. She has a M.S. in Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering and an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She reported to the Fighting Swordsmen of VFA-32 in January of 2019 as a Department Head. photo: U.S. Navy


CDR Stacy “Stigs” Uttecht
Commanding Officer, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32
CDR Stacy “Stigs” Uttecht graduated from Virginia Tech in 2000 and earned her wings of gold in June of 2002. She has flown in the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18F Super Hornet. She has logged over 3,500 hours of which over 1,220 are combat, and over 400 arrested landings. She deployed for Afghanistan for a year on IA, as well.
CDR Uttecht took command of the Swordsmen in January of 2018, becoming the second female to command an F/A-18 squadron. photo: U.S. Navy


LCDR Jennifer “Cujo” Hesling
LCDR Jennifer “Cujo” Hesling graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2008 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. She earned her Wings of Gold in 2010. She completed 40 combat missions and has been a flight instructor in the F/A-18F Super Hornet. LCDR Hesling is a Mom of twin daughters. photo: U.S. Navy


LT Christy “Buzz” Talisse
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211
LT Christy “Buzz” Talisse graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2013 with a degree in Quantitative Economics. She recently completed a deployment aboard the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Dynamic Force Employment with the Fighting Checkmates of VFA-211. photo: U.S. Navy


LCDR Danielle “Purple” Thiriot
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106
LCDR Danielle “Purple” Thiriot graduated in 2007 from Harvard University and received her Wings of Gold in May 2010. She has led over 25 combat missions flying the F/A-18F and flew on the Super Hornet Tactical Demonstration Team, performing at airshows across the U.S. and Canada. Thiriot recently completed a tour at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. as Flag Aide to the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM John Richardson. In March of 2019, she will join the Pukin’ Dogs of VFA-143 as a Department Head. photo: U.S. Navy