Smoke On Go

Meet Lt. Amanda Lee, the first Blue Angels woman demo pilot

Currently a single-ship Super Hornet demo pilot, Lt. Amanda Lee has enlisted roots and is now about to make history with the Blue Angels.

Compiled for Smoke on Go! from and Defense Visual Information Distribution Service

U.S. Navy Lt. Amanda Lee, who goes by the callsign “Stalin,” has been selected to become the first woman to join the famed Blue Angels as a pilot on its core six-ship jet demonstration team.

The Blue Angels, first formed in 1946 and officially known as the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, made the announcement official Monday morning.

“Among those team members selected this year is the squadron’s first woman F/A-18E/F demonstration pilot,” according to a post on the Blue Angels official Facebook page. “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.”

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

Each year, the Blue Angels select finalists to interview at the team’s home base of Naval Air Sta-tion (NAS) Pensacola, Fla., during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show; selections are made at the conclusion of that week. This year’s Pensacola Beach Air Show took place July 6-9.

The selected 2023 officers include:

F/A-18E/F Demonstration Pilots:

Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Zimmerman, of Baltimore, Md., is currently assigned to the “Red Rippers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2009.

Lt. Amanda Lee, of Mounds View, Minn., is currently assigned to the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106. She graduated from Old Dominion University in 2013.

Events Coordinator:

Lt. Cmdr. Brian Vaught, of Englewood, Colo., is a naval flight officer currently assigned to the Naval School of Aviation Safety. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 2008.

C-130 Demonstration Pilot:

Marine Corps Capt. Samuel Petko, of Osceola, Ind., is a KC-130J Hercules pilot currently as-signed to the “Sumos” of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152. He graduated from Indiana University in 2014.

Maintenance Officer:

Lt. Cmdr. Greg Jones, of Cary, N.C., is an aviation maintenance officer currently assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit John F. Kennedy (CVN 79). He graduated from Elon University in 2008.

Flight Surgeon:

Lt. Philippe Warren, of Williamsburg, Va. is a flight surgeon currently assigned to the “Fighting Griffins” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014.

New team members will report to the squadron in September for a two-month turnover period. Upon completion of the 2022 show season, which concludes in November with the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show at NAS Pensacola, the team will embark on a rigorous five-month training program at NAS Pensacola and Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif.

The mission of the Blue Angels is to showcase the teamwork and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps through flight demonstrations and community outreach while in-spiring a culture of excellence and service to country.




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