Selection of the first female Blue Angels Jet demonstration pilot
“We hired the woman,” said one of the pilots. “We can handle what comes after that. Like, we don’t need the whole Navy spool-up and again they’re going to blow it all up no matter what we say.”
Flying with the Blue Angels is very difficult for any pilot.
The Blue Angels Super Hornets have received a number of modifications for their new role, including the installation of a heavy spring on the control stick, which means the pilot must constantly apply 40 pounds of back pressure to it, even in level flight.
This modification was carried over from the “Legacy” Hornet and it helps in tricky formation flying while being in extremely close proximity to other aircraft. Additionally, the team don’t wear anti-G suits, as the swelling of the bladders that compress the lower extremities to prevent blood from pooling there during high-g maneuvers could disrupt their finely tuned stick entries, always under pressure. By comparison, the Thunderbirds wear anti-G suits and their F-16s have pressure-controlled side sticks.
Whether a woman was capable of handling these entries given the physical strength required to do so for the duration of a Blue Angels demonstration, typically more than 45 minutes, was addressed in the Navy’s findings of a complaint of sexual harassment to the Blue Angels. The report, which found no evidence of gender discrimination in the selection of the Blue Angles display team, discussed a PowerPoint presentation developed to show the challenges women face when ‘they want to fly as part of the demo team. He found that women were able to fly jets for the demo team. He also found an overwhelming feeling from team members that a woman would indeed be welcome:
Pilot skills aside, the Navy’s shortage of female pilots means a much smaller pool of potential candidates for the Blue Angels’ base jet demonstration cadre.
The Blue Angels have finally found a candidate they believe is the right fit, an incredible pilot who happens to be female and is ready to make history for all to see.