Navy’s Blue Angels appoints Lt. Amanda Lee, first female jet pilot

The Blue Angels appointed its first female jet pilot to join the squadron on Monday.

The US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron selected Lt. Amanda Lee to be the first woman to serve as a F/A-18E/F demonstration pilot.

Lee is one of six new officers to join the Blue Angels team for the 2023 air show season.

Hundreds of women have held various roles with the Blue Angels over 55 years, but Lee is the first woman selected to serve as a demonstration pilot.

She is currently assigned to the Gladiators of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, which is stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Lee grew up in Mounds View, Minnesota and later attended the University of Minnesota — at which point she decided to enlist in the Navy. She graduated from Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois in 2007, according to the U.S. Navy.

Lt. Amanda Lee
Lee (above) credits Capt. Rosemary Marine, one of the first female military pilots, as the person who paved the way for women in the air forces.
Blue Angels

She first worked as an aviation electronics technician and was selected to participate in the Seaman-to-Admiral Commissioning Program. She earned her commission in 2013 — the same year she graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.

Three years later, in April 2016, Lee was designated a naval aviator, the U.S. Navy said.

In 2019, Lee was one of nine female naval aviators who honored one of the first military pilots, the later Rosemary Mariner, with an all-women flyover at her funeral services.

At the time, she credited Mariner for pioneering the way for women like herself in the air forces.

“I first served as an Enlisted Sailor. I’m humbled to have come full circle, and now fly the very aircraft I used to work on as a maintainer,” Lee said. “It’s because of women like Capt. Mariner that ‘equal opportunity’ won’t be in our vocabulary in future generations.”

Lee follows Marine Maj. Katie Higgins, who was the first woman to fly with the Blue Angels. Higgins flew the team’s C-130 Fat Albert transport plane from 2014 to 2016.

Each year, the Blue Angels selects finalists from an applicant pool and interviews them during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show. This year’s show concluded on July 9, at which point selections were made.

“We had an overwhelming number of applicants from all over the globe this year,” said Capt. Brian Kesselring, commanding officer and flight leader of 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.”

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