Lifestyle

First Female Blue Angels Pilot Retires

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This month, Marine Katie Higgins piloted for the Blue Angels Aviation Team for the last time. Higgins was the first (and so far, only) female pilot for the second oldest aerobatic team in the world. “I think, no matter what your gender is, just to be selected to be on this team is an honor,” she told Fox 13 News.

Higgins comes from a line of military pilots in her family, according to AOPA.org. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2009, and served overseas in Afghanistan and Africa. She joined the Blue Angels in 2014 after a lengthy interview process and jumped right into a five-person crew for the Lockheed C–130 Hercules named “Fat Albert.”

“Higgins loves demonstrating the C–130’s utility to airshow audiences,” AOPA reports. “‘People see it as a big airplane and they don’t see how versatile the aircraft is and how dynamic it is,’ she said.”

It’s estimated that 11 million people watched Higgins fly as a Blue Angel each year. (Normally, Blue Angels pilots rotate out every three years or so.) It’s Higgins’s time to move on, but she appreciates the enthusiasm of the newest members. “I know that they are going to have a great year next year.  The new guys coming in are chopping at the bit to start their job,” she told Fox 13.