Question:  Can you guess what ties GE Aviation to Pensacola and Pascagoula?

Answer:  The Blue Angels, who fly F/A-18s powered by GE’s F404 engines, are based in Pensacola, Florida, and Ingalls Shipbuilding, which makes many of the ships powered by GE’s marine engines, has its giant shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Eight GE Aviation employees got to see each location first hand this past October as a part of GE Aviation’s 100 Flights program, celebrating the company’s 100th anniversary. They shared their once-in-a-lifetime experiences below, along with some breathtaking photos and video captured on the trip. “Visiting these customers on this trip was a great way to see our products being used up close and personal,” said Tammie Palmitier, a senior engineer at GE’s Grand Rapids site.

The first stop on the trip was in Pensacola, where the group got to visit the National Museum of Naval Aviation, tour the Blue Angels hangar and see them perform the final practice show of their season.

GE employees pose in front of the National Museum of Naval Aviation, located at Naval Air Station Pensacola. From left to right: Tom Lodge, Brian Gilhooly, Scott Schindlbeck, Tom Brenner, Tammie Palmitier, Lori Flaminio and Dave Wilson.

Tom Lodge, marketing leader for GE’s military systems business, played tour guide at the museum, pointing out GE’s J47. The J47 is the most produced jet engine in aviation history, with more than 35,000 built. Read more about the J47.

The J31 was the first jet engine to be mass produced in the U.S. Read more about the J31.

Aircraft powered by the J79 engine—including the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, Convair B-58 Hustler, North American RA-5 Vigilante, IAI F-21A Kfir, and the McDonnell F-4 Phantom II (which you can see behind the engine)—established 44 speed, altitude, and time-to-climb records. Have you heard about Mr. J79? Read more about the J79 and GE employee Mike Solon’s passion for the engine.

Brain Gilhooly and Tammie Palmitier reenact scenes from Top Gun in the cockpit of an F-14 Tomcat. The Top Gun sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, will be in movie theaters this summer featuring the F/A-18 Super Hornet, powered by GE’s F414 engines. Did Top Gun make the list of our Top Ten Aviation Movies of All Time?

Scott Schindlbeck poses next to an F404 engine, which powers the F/A-18 Hornet flown by the Blue Angels. Scott makes parts that go into the F404 in Muskegon, Michigan, and loved getting to see the engines perform up close and personal.


This was the Blue Angels’ final practice after performing all season, which means they were flying in closer formation than ever before.


”There’s just something about a dozen F404s blazing a few hundred feet over your head that really lights up all the parts of your brain that drove you into this field in the first place,” said Tom Brenner, who works on the Advanced Military Engineering team as part of the adaptive cycle programs.


During the “Section High Alpha” maneuver shown in the video above, two Hornets slow down to 125 knots (144 miles per hour) and pitch the nose of the Super Hornet up to 45 degrees.

The Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard is 800 acres and employs more than 11,500 employees. Ingalls has built nearly 70 percent of the U.S. Navy fleet of warships, a majority powered by GE engines. From left to right: Dave Wilson, Maria Brutz, Tom Brenner, Brian Gilhooly, Lori Flaminio, Scott Schindlbeck, Tammie Palmitier and Tom Lodge.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Julie R. Matyascik

The tour of the shipyard included boarding the USS Delbert D. Black, a DDG51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, powered by four of GE’s LM2500 engines. The ship is named after Master Chief Petty Officer Delbert Black, the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, who passed away in 2000. “Seeing GEA’s products in action was impressive,” said Lori Flaminio, a senior specialist in government contracts property. “It’s a steady reminder of our customers depending on the highest quality products from GE Aviation.”

The 100 Flights Employee Recognition Program was developed as part of GE Aviation’s 100-Year Anniversary. 100 employees were randomly selected to share our history at key sites and shows around the world. They will have the opportunity to see what we do, how we do it, and why we do it, creating an experience that inspires a connection to our Purpose. Employees will see how their work directly impacts our business and the world first-hand while experiencing our rich culture and history.