Marine aviation officially began on May 22, 1912, when First Lieutenant Alfred Austell Cunningham, USMC, reported to Naval Aviation Camp in Annapolis, Maryland. As the number of Marine Aviators grew, so did the desire to separate from Naval Aviation, a dream realized in 1914, when First Lieutenant Bernard L. Smith was directed to Culebra, Puerto Rico, to establish the Marine Section of the Navy Flying School. In 1915, the Commandant of the Marine Corps authorized the creation of a Marine Corps aviation company consisting of 10 officers and 40 enlisted men.
To better support Marines on the ground, the Marine Corps has been developing and incorporating aviation's capabilities ever since. Aviation has been an integral war-fighting element of every major conflict since. Marine Corps Aviation has led the way on innumerable advances in aviation technology, tactics, and employment from innovations in close air support related tactics, techniques, and procedures which also include vertical envelopment in combat operations – enabled by the helicopter. Marine Aviation has been the leader with the development, introduction, and successful operational employment of vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) aircraft such as the AV-8 Harrier, the MV-22 Osprey, and the F-35B Lightning II.<
See the Smithsonian Insitution's art exhibit of the Marine Aviation Centennial.