Home ODU graduate is first female Blue Angels fighter jet demo pilot

ODU graduate is first female Blue Angels fighter jet demo pilot

The Blue Angels have chosen Lt. Amanda Lee has the squadron’s first female fighter jet demonstration pilot. (© Charles Eberson – stock.adobe.com)

Lt. Amanda Lee of Mounds View, Minn., currently assigned to the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 and a 2013 graduate of Old Dominion University, is one of six new officers selected for the 2023 Blue Angels air show season.

Lee is the first female fighter pilot of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. According to a press release, she is a F/A-18E/F demonstration pilot. Two F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pilots, an events coordinator, a C-130J Super Hercules pilot, an aviation maintenance officer and a flight surgeon were chosen to replace outgoing Blue Angels team members.

“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,” the press release stated.

An interview process is held every year to select finalists at the team’s home base of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla.

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

Lt. Philippe Warren of Williamsburg, Va., a 2013 UVA graduate, was selected as flight surgeon. He is currently assigned to the “Fighting Griffins” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266.

The six new members of the Blue Angels will report in September for a two-month turnover period. In November, they will begin a five-month training program at NAS Pensacola and Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif. as the 2023 season begins.

The squadron’s mission is “to showcase the teamwork and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations and community outreach while inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.