In a blue and yellow Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, U.S. Navy Lt. Amanda Lee, the first female pilot for the Navy’s elite Blue Angels, roared into New Century AirCenter on Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s KC Garmin Air Show in Gardner, Kansas.
Lee, a native of Mounds View, Minnesota, flies left wing in fighter jet number 3.
“I kind of fell into flying for the Blue Angels,” said Lee, who enlisted in the Navy in 2007 as an Aviation Electronics Technician (AT). “I used to work on these airplanes as a maintainer, and when I picked up my commissioning program, I transitioned into the pilot spot, kind of hoping to get back to the same aircraft that I used to work on,” she said.
Lee, who joined the Blue Angels team last September, has more than 1,400 flight hours and 225 carrier landings under her wings. “I can’t believe I got picked up for this incredible team,” Lee said.
As the first female pilot for the elite demonstration squadron, Lee said the support from the public has been ‘absolutely incredible.’
“From the team and the public in general, it’s awesome to see the support,” said Lee, who was originally going to school to be a doctor and was pre-med.
“Look at where life has taken me and that is just through seeing the different opportunities saying, ‘Hey, let’s try this out’, and this is kind of where I fell,” said Lee.
As a role model for children, Lee said it’s awesome to be in this role and her message to children is to apply yourself. “If you really apply yourself and you give it 110%, you can really get it wherever you want to go,” she said. “So, you know, just giving it everything that you have really opened up doors.”
Lee said one of the best things about being a member of the Blue Angels, isn’t the jet, it’s the team and the teamwork. “It’s really about the people both within the team and what we get to do for the public,” said Lee, who said she is honored to be a part of the team.
As a pilot, Lee currently flies in the left wing position, but will soon transition to a new challenging position.
“I should move into the four spot, which is the training officer who’s responsible for training the entire delta next year,” said Lee. The delta refers to the V-shaped formation the planes fly in for many of their maneuvers.
“I’m excited, I know it’s going to be a totally different challenge from flying the left wing,” she said. “I’m a little bit biased, but I think flying the left wing is the hardest position to fly in the delta. Next year, the four spot, the slot, I think has the best seat and the best view in the house,” Lee said.
Trust within the team and practice allow for the precision of the flight demonstration squad’s performance. “The maneuvers that we do today are everything that we train to do in the fleet, except for at very low altitude,” said Lee, so spectators will get to see it ‘kind of up close’ and personal. “This is all stuff we train to do,” she added. “We do it in a little bit tighter set for the public, so it’s a little bit more entertaining.”
“I’m excited, excited to be here,” Lee said. “Excited to show Kansas what Blue Angels have.”
The Garmin KC Air Show is Saturday and Sunday, with performances starting around 10:30 a.m. Tickets can be purchased online.