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Blue Angels name first female pilot, new 2015 members

The first Blue Angels female pilot, Marine Capt. Katie Higgins, was named to the team on July 22.
US Navy

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The Navy's Blue Angels on Tuesday announced the names of the new pilots and support staff which will join the elite flight squadron beginning this October.

The announcement from the team's front office includes the naming of the first Blue Angels female pilot in the organization's 68 year history, Marine Capt. Katie Higgins.

A list of Naval and Marine officers have been added to the 2015 squadron to replace retiring pilots and maintenance personnel on the flight line.

The Flight Demonstration Squadron has named Navy CDR Robert Flynn as the new executive officer. Flynn, a native of Moorestown, N.J., is a 1992 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and will become the Blue Angels' first XO. The new title has been added to help oversee that the entire squadron's high performance standards are maintained.

Replacing three outgoing F/A-18 Hornet pilots will be Navy Lt. Andrew Talbott of Sedan, Kansas; Navy Lt. Matt Suyderhoud of Honolulu, Hawaii; and Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss of Durango, Colorado.

Angel 2 Right Wing pilot LCDR John Hiltz and Angel 5 Lead Solo LCDR David Tickle have both stated that this will be their final season and will depart the team in November.

The air show crowd favorite, Fat Albert, will receive two new pilots for 2015 as Capt. Higgins of Annapolis, Maryland and Maj. Mark Hamilton of Becker, Minnesota join the all-Marine C-130 transport crew. Higgins expressed on Tuesday via Twitter that it is her "best day ever", and later added that it "still doesn't seem real".

Higgins and Hamilton have both been serving at the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, N.C.

Current Fat Albert pilot Capt. A.J. Harrell is slated to also depart the team in November.

The aircraft's eight person flight crew is made up of three pilots and five support personnel.

Additional team members selected include new flight surgeon Navy Lt. Joe Schwartz; supply officer Navy Lt. Gregory Bollinger, Jr.; and events coordination officer Marine Capt. Corrie Mays.

The Blues 2014 season concludes in November with a three day air show over their home at NAS Pensacola. The new personal will join Angel 1 leader "Boss" Thomas Frosch and the existing flight teams in practice demonstrations this January in El Centro, California as they work to blend as one unit.

(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace, science and technology. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)