During the 1980s, naval aviation saw a resurgence of its strength and capabilities. There was an increase in its building programs and capabilities. Many of naval aviation's aircraft for the 1990s and the 21st century were introduced in the 1980s. They included the F/A-18 Hornet, the SH-60B Seahawk helicopter, the MH-53B helicopter, and the AV-8B Harrier II. A new aircraft concept was introduced with the roll out of the V-22 Osprey, a fixed-wing, tilt-rotor aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing and horizontal flight (VTOL).
The decade of the 1980s was special for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of naval aviation. Throughout the year, many of the advances in the development of naval aviation were lauded, as were the men and women who contributed to its growth. Among these were Adm. John S. "Jimmie" Thach, one of the Navy's early fighter tacticians, who died on April 15, 1981; Walter Hinton, the last surviving member of the crew of the NC-4 transatlantic flight of 1919, died on October 28, 1981; and on July 12, 1990, Comdr. Rosemary Bryant Mariner assumed command of VAQ-34, thus becoming the first woman selected to command an operational aviation squadron.