US Navy’s elite Blue Angels display team gets its first female fighter pilot

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For the first time in its 76-year history, the US Navy’s elite Blue Angels flight demonstration team will add a female fighter pilot to its ranks, the Marine Service announced this week.

Lt. Amanda Lee, along with five other officers, has been named to the squad for the 2023 show season and will join the Blue Angels this fall for training, according to the Navy.

Lee is currently assigned to the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron 106 at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., where she flies the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. She enlisted in the Navy in 2007 and earned her commission in August 2013.

She will join 17 officers from the Blue Angels team, which includes US Marine Corps jet pilots and C-130 pilots, as well as support officers. Although she was the squadron’s first female jet pilot, many women served with the Blue Angels in other roles. Three women currently hold the positions of flight surgeon, public affairs officer and event coordinator.

The very first female pilot to join the Blue Angels was Marine Major Katie Cook, who flew the KC-130 logistics aircraft. She told the Wall Street Journal she was “ecstatic” that another woman would represent the Blue Angels.

Lee was part of another historic first in 2019 when she participated in the first all-female flyover for the funeral service of retired Captain Rosemary Mariner, the first female commanding officer of a naval aviation squadron. At the time, Lee said she was “a pilot first, a person second, and sex is really not an issue.”

Lee and another F/A-18E/F pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Zimmerman, were selected from a pool of 16 applicants. They will join 15 other pilots this fall to complete a rigorous five-month training program at Naval Air Station Pensacola, the Blue Angels’ home base, to prepare for next year’s season.

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