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Blue Angels make history with first-ever female demonstration pilot

For the first time since the squadron’s inception in 1946, the Angels will make history with the arrival of its first female demonstration pilot: Lt. Amanda Lee, one of the two new Super Hornet pilots. 
Lt. Amanda Lee, of Mounds View, Minn., (Photo by Chief Petty Officer Paul Archer)

The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels have inducted six new members into its ranks as part of the 2023 flight demonstration team.

  • Introducing two officers from the Marine Corps and four officers from the Navy, the new arrivals consist of an events coordinator, an aviation maintenance officer, a flight surgeon, a C-130J Super Hercules pilot, and two F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pilots.

For over 55 years, hundreds of women have served faithfully with the Blue Angels, the second oldest official aerobatic team in the world.

  • For the first time since the squadron’s inception in 1946, the Angels will make history with the arrival of its first female demonstration pilot: Lt. Amanda Lee, one of the two new Super Hornet pilots. 

“We had an overwhelming number of applicants from all over the globe this year,” said Capt. Brian Kesselring, commanding officer and flight leader for the Blue Angels. “We look forward to training our fantastic new team members, passing on the torch, and watching the incredible things this team will accomplish in 2023.”    

The 2023 team includes:

  • Lt. Cmdr. Brian Vaught of Englewood, Colorado
  • Lt. Cmdr. Greg Jones of Cary, North Carolina
  • Lt. Philippe Warren of Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Capt. Samuel Petko of Osceola, Indiana 
  • Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Zimmerman of Baltimore, Maryland
  • Lt. Amanda Lee of Mounds View, Minnesota

Every year, the finalists for the team are selected to undergo one last interview at the Blue Angels headquarters at NAS Pensacola during the Pensacola Beach Air Show week, with the final selections chosen after it ends.

  • This year’s Pensacola Beach Air Show took place earlier this month from July 6-9. The shows are scheduled two years in advance, so next year’s event is scheduled for July 7-8.

Before they are cleared for takeoff, the team will have to report to the squadron for a two-month probationary period in September. 

Following the conclusion of the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show in November, which will signal the end of the 2022 show season, the team will undergo a thorough five-month training program at NAS Pensacola and the other Blue Angels headquarters at NAF El Centro in California.

This year’s Homecoming Air Show is scheduled for November 11-12, while next year’s event will be on November 3-4. 2023 will be the 77th Blue Angels air show season, and they are scheduled to perform 62 demonstrations at 32 locations.

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