Wings of a Marine Traces the Path of a Future Skyhawk Pilot to the Fleet
Wings of a Marine was produced by the Navy Department in 1964. It tells the story of Second Lieutenant William T. Smith, a typical Marine aviator in those days, and his path after completion of his basic flight training at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. This particular Marine aviator enters the A-4 pipeline and eventually flies A-4C Skyhawks with Marine Attack Squadron VMA-225 Vagabonds. The film was shot primarily at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point in North Carolina. Smith’s initial A-4C carrier qualifications (CarQual) were shot aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Lexington (at the time CVS-16, later CVT-16). The quality of both the visuals and the audio is quite good- better than most films transferred to video from this period.
The film is typical for its era in that it’s a little bit hokey, but that doesn’t take away from the excellent air-to-air photography or the time-capsule quality of the jets, the personnel, or their appearance. Naturally there are numerous shots of the Vagabonds flying their A-4Cs. Also making screen appearances are VMFA-115 Silver Eagles flying their McDonnell-Douglas F-4B Phantom IIs and VMA-332 Polka Dots / Moonlighters flying their A-4Cs. As Smith drives down the MCAS Cherry Point ramp he sees Lockheed KC-130 Hercules tankers of VMGR-252 Otis, and Vought RF-8 Crusaders and Douglas EF-10B Skyknights of VMCJ-2 Playboys.
Cover photo credit: AMC