The Blue Angels, the famed U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron that has delighted millions with its thrilling air shows, added its first female pilot last week. Navy Lt. Amanda Lee was tapped as the first female F/A-18E/F demo pilot. She and five other officers are the newest members of the 2023 Show Season for the Blue Angels.
"For over 55 years, hundreds of women have served with the Blue Angels representing the very best of the Navy and Marine Corps. Come the start of the 2023 show season, these six selectees will join the ranks of the U.S. Navy’s most elite aviation officers, ground support officers, and enlisted maintenance personnel already serving on the team," said the announcement from Blue Angels.
The Blue Angels was founded in 1946 to generate public support and boost Navy morale by performing aerial moves at air shows, sporting events, and other flight demonstrations.
Each year, the Blue Angels select finalists to interview at the team’s home base of Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show. Selections are made at the end of that week. This year’s Pensacola Beach Air Show took place July 6-9.
Lee is assigned to the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She joins three women who currently serve as a flight surgeon, a public affairs officer, and an event coordinator.
The Mounds View, Minnesota native graduated from Old Dominion University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry. She enlisted in the Navy while in school in 2007, earned her commission in 2013, and became a naval aviator in 2016. Before her current assignment, Lt. Lee deployed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier in support of the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State in the Middle East.
Lee was one of nine female naval aviators who honored Rosemary Mariner, one of our first female pilots, with an all-women flyover at her funeral services in 2019.
“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 said she considers herself "a pilot first, person second, and my gender isn't really an issue."