The U.S. Navy’s aerial demonstration squadron the Blue Angels announced its next pilot lineup on Monday, which includes the squadron’s first-ever female F/A-18E/F demonstration pilot.
The Blue Angels announced on Monday that they had chosen Lt. Amanda Lee to serve on the team for the 2023 air show season. Lee is a native of Mounds View, Minn., graduated from Old Dominion University in 2013, and is currently assigned to the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
Lee is not the first female to serve with the Blue Angels, but she is the first to fly in the team’s iconic blue F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets.
“For over 55 years, hundreds of women have served with the Blue Angels representing the very best of the Navy and Marine Corps,” the Blue Angels said.
Marine Capt. Katie Higgins became the first Blue Angels pilot in 2015 and flew in the 2015 and 2016 seasons on the C-130 demonstration team, flying the team’s C-130, known as “Fat Albert.”
Lee is one of two new pilots selected for the F/A-18E/F demonstration. The other new F/A-18 pilot is Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Zimmerman, of Baltimore, Md., who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 2009 and is currently assigned to the “Red Rippers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11.
Marine Corps Capt. Samuel Petko, of Osceola, Ind. was also chosen for the Blue Angels C-130 demonstration team. Petko, is a KC-130J Hercules pilot currently assigned to the “Sumos” of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152.
Lt. Cmdr. Greg Jones, of Cary, N.C., who is currently assigned as a maintenance officer for Pre-Commissioning Unit John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), will serve as the Blue Angels’ newest maintenance officer.
Lt. Philippe Warren, of Williamsburg, Va., currently assigned as a flight surgeon to the “Fighting Griffins” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266, will serve as the Blue Angels’ newest flight surgeon.
Lt. Cmdr. Brian Vaught, of Englewood, Colo., who is currently assigned to the Naval School of Aviation Safety, will serve as the team’s newest events coordinator.
All new Blue Angels team members will report to the squadron at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola in September for a two-month turnover period. Once the 2022 show season ends in November with the Homecoming Air Show at NAS Pensacola, the new team will then embark on a rigorous five-month training program at NAS Pensacola and Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif.