The US Navy Blue Angels announced new officers joining the team for the 2023 air show season, including the first woman to fly the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Women personnel on the team support other parts of the squadron, such as the largely C-130J Super Hercules, but never in the cockpit of its marquee jet.
Lieutenant Amanda Lee, call sign “Stalin” of Mounds View, Minnesota, currently assigned to the “Gladiators” of Strike Force Squadron 106, will lead the way, replacing one of the two current members on the team. He is already a demonstration pilot for the US Navy Rhino Demo Team flying the Super Hornet.
He graduated from Old Dominion University in 2013 and will be joined by Lieutenant Commander. Thomas Zimmermann as the new Super Hornet pilot the following season as part of the Core Six jets performing nationwide.
“This year we had a large number of applicants from around the world,” said Captain Brian Kesling, commanding officer and flight leader of the Blue Angels based at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “We look forward to seeing our wonderful new team members carry on the torch, and see the incredible things this team will achieve in 2023.”
The Blue Angels, originally formed in 1946, along with the US Air Force Thunderbirds, make several stops in Florida during the air show season, which runs from March–November each year.
For the remainder of 2022, the Blue Angels will return to NAS Jacksonville for the NAS JAX Air Show on October 22-23 and then finish their season as they always do with the 11-12 NAS Pensacola Homecoming Air Show. The Thunderbirds will return once again in 2022 for the Central Florida Air & Space Show in Sanford on October 29-30.
Lt. Lee’s first-ever Florida performance flight will not take place until the team’s 2023 schedule begins, and the Blue Angels have six Florida stops next year.
They include at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo in Lakeland on April 1-2, at the NAS Key West Southernmost Air Specular in NAS Key West on April 15-16, at the Fort Lauderdale Air Show on April 29-30, in Pensacola on July 8 . Beach Air Show, October 21-22 at Jacksonville Sea and Sky Air Show and Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show November 3-4 at NAS Pensacola.