For the 2023 air show season, the Blue Angels of the U.S. Navy will have their first woman pilot. Women have worked in other roles with the Blue Angels for more than 55 years, but Lt. Amanda Lee of Mounds View, Minnesota, is the first to join the famous flight squadron as a pilot, the Navy said.
Lee is a member of Strike Fighter Squadron 106’s “Gladiators.” He graduated from Old Dominion University in 2013, the Blue Angels said in a post about the new team on Facebook on Monday. The squadron’s commanding officer and flight leader, Capt. Brian Kesselring, said, “This year, we had a huge number of applicants from all over the world.” “We can’t wait to train our great new team members, pass the torch, and see what amazing things this team will do in 2023.”
The Blue Angels also named five new team members based at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Zimmerman of Baltimore, Maryland, and Marine Corps Capt. Samuel Petko of Osceola, Indiana, are both pilot. The events coordinator was given to Lt. Cmdr. Brian Vaught of Englewood, Colorado. The new flight surgeon is Lt. Philippe Warren from Williamsburg, Virginia, and the new aviation maintenance officer is Lt. Greg Jones from Cary, North Carolina.
In September, the new team members will join the squadron for a two-month training period. In November 2022, when the show season is over, they will start a tough five-month training program at NAS Pensacola and Naval Air Facility El Centro, California.
The team’s goal is to show how well the US Navy and Marine Corps work as a team and how professional they are through flight demonstrations and community service.