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Navy’s famed Blue Angels aerial acrobatics team selects first female pilot

Lt. Amanda Lee is expected to report to the Blue Angels in the fall and will train with the squadron through the winter.
Lt. Amanda Lee in 2019.
Lt. Amanda Lee in 2019.U.S. Navy

For the first time in its 76-year history, the Navy’s famed Blue Angels aerial demonstration team will feature a female pilot.

The Navy on Monday named Lt. Amanda Lee as one of the Blue Angels’ newest core members. 

Since 1946, the Blue Angels have performed dazzling aerial displays at air shows, sporting events and other flight demonstrations, providing community outreach and an important recruiting tool for the U.S. Navy. 

Lee, of Mounds View, Minn., is now on a flight demonstration team, Strike Fighter Squadron 106, known as the Gladiators, stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va.

She’s expected to report to the Blue Angels in the fall and will train with the squadron through the winter. Her first event will likely be early next year, Navy said. 

In 2019, Lee participated in the first all-female flyover as part of the funeral service for Rosemary Mariner, a retired captain who was one of the Navy’s first female pilots and the first woman to command a naval aviation squadron.

“When I come into the ready room right now, I’m a pilot first, a person second, and my gender really isn’t an issue,” Lee said in an interview released by the Navy at the time. “It’s people like Capt. Mariner that have paved that way for us, so it’s really a huge honor. I’m super humbled to be a part of this flyover in her honor.” 

There are 17 officers serving with the Blue Angels, according to their website. Each is typically on the team for two years. The current team already includes three women — a public affairs officer, a flight surgeon and an events coordinator.

Navy and Marine Corps pilots who have a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet flight hours and who are aircraft-carrier qualified are eligible for one of the extremely competitive and highly sought-after positions. The team currently flies F/A-18 Super Hornet jets.