For the first time in its 76-year history, the US Navy’s elite Blue Angels flight demonstration team will add a female fighter jet pilot to its ranks, the sea service announced this week.
Lt. Amanda Lee, along with five other officers, were named to the team 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’ll join 17 officers on the Blue Angels team, which includes jet pilots and US Marine Corps C-130 pilots, as well as support officers. Though she is the squadron’s first female jet pilot, many women have served with the Blue Angels in other roles. Three women currently serve as a flight surgeon, public affairs officer and event coordinator.
The first ever female pilot to join the Blue Angels was Marine Maj. Katie Cook, who flew the KC-130 logistics aircraft. She told The Wall Street Journal that she’s “ecstatic” for another woman to 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 Capt. Rosemary Mariner, the first female commander of a naval aviation squadron. At the time, Lee said she’s “a pilot first, a person second, and gender really isn’t an issue.”
Lee and one other F/A-18E/F pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Zimmerman, were selected from a pool of 16 applicants. They’ll join 15 other pilots this fall to complete a rigorous five-month training program at Naval Air Station Pensacola, the home base of the Blue Angels, to prepare for next years season.