The Blue Angels rocked the skies over Hawaii recently as part of the 2022 Kaneohe Bay Air Show, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on Aug. 12, 2022. The Blue Angels fly the F/A-18 Super Hornets and the team is comprised of six F/A-18 Super Hornets and one C-130J Hercules(Flown by Marines) who perform aerobatics around the United States at some 34 airshows around the country in 2022.
A series of fuel explosions mark a simulated air attack in August 2022, Blue Angels Demonstration Team event at Kaneohe Bay Air Show, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Aug. 12, 2022.
Blue Angels Ads New Members Including First Female Demo Pilot
Recently the Navy announced a new lineup of pilots and other support officers for the 2023 air show season. According to the press release the Blue Angels selected new two F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pilots, a new events coordinator, a C-130J Super Hercules pilot who is a Marine aviator, an aviation maintenance officer, and a flight surgeon to replace outgoing team members.
“Among those team members selected this year is the squadron’s first woman F/A-18E/F demonstration pilot. 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 term “selected” reflects the fact that the navy does not assign personnel to the flight demo team, you have to apply to be a part of the squadron. Capt Brian Kesselring the CO and flight leader of the Blue Angels stated, “We had an overwhelming number of applicants from all over the globe this year.”
Every year, hopeful applicants who make the first cut are interviewed by the team in July during the Pensacola Beach Air Show event held this year between the 6th and 9th of the month. Those selected are notified within the week.
The team stated that 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.
– 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 assigned to the “Sumos” of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152. He graduated from Indiana University in 2014.
– 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.
-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.
Following selection, the new members report to the squadron in September for a turnover period lasting some two months. Then they begin a further five months of training at NAS Pensacola and at Naval Air Facility El Centro in California.
To date, there have been some 260 Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Pilots making it one of the rarest occupations in the US. By contrast, there have been over 600 people that can call themselves “astronauts” and have been to space. One member of the Blue Angels actually became an astronaut, Flight Surgeon, and Commander Chuck Brady was a NASA astronaut between 1989-90.
For information on the remaining appearance dates in the 2022 season, go here.
Here is a pretty cool video about the Blue Angels for your viewing pleasure.