Navy’s Blue Angels choose first female demonstration pilot

 (NewsNation) — The first female pilot in the U.S. Navy’s famous Blue Angels aerial demonstration team’s 76-year history was named Monday.

Lt. Amanda Lee of Minnesota is one of six new core members selected for the team, the Navy said. Although Navy and Marine Corps women have served with the Blue Angels before, they’ve never done so as a pilot.

Lee is currently assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron 106 demonstration team, known as the Gladiators.

According to USA Today, she graduated from Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois in 2007. She became an aviation electronic technician and was later selected for the Seaman-to-Admiral Commissioning Program. In 2013, Lee earned her commission and was designated a naval aviator in April 2016. USA Today reported that she was then deployed to the USS Harry S. Truman in support of Dynamic Force Employment Operation “INHERENT RESOLVE,” and to complete exercises with NATO allies.

Created in 1946, the Blue Angels are meant to generate public support and boost Navy morale by performing aerial moves at air shows, sporting events and other flight demonstrations.

Their current season ends in winter. Afterward, members are set to undergo five months of training in California before starting the 2023 show season.

Currently, there are 17 officers on the Blue Angels. They typically serve two years with the team.

To become a Blue Angel, aviators have to have about 1,250 tactical jet flight hours by Sept. 30 of the year they’re applying, a spokesperson for the commander of Naval Air Forces told the Washington Post. They also need to complete an operational fleet tour and advanced flight training with an average or greater composite score.

“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 a news 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.”

Per the Washington Post, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 450 million onlookers since they were created.

Reuters contributed to this report.