First Female Pilot Joins Blue Angels

** Capt. Katie Higgins**

Female naval aviators have been flying fighter jets for 20 years but none have ever broken into the rarefied territory of the choicest job available to them — Blue Angels demonstration team pilot.

Capt. Greg McWherter, the former commanding officer of the Blue Angels who went by the eyebrow-raising pilot call sign "Stiffy," was ousted in April amid charges of sexual misconduct. A Navy review later found that the Blue Angels team doesn't discriminate based on gender — but that still begged the question of why no woman had ever been invited to join.

That's all changed with the Navy's announcement this week of the appointment of Marine Capt. Katie Higgins, 27, the first-ever female Blue Angel. She will fly as a C-130 demonstration pilot starting in October.

Higgins, a 2008 graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, is currently assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 (VMGR-252) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.

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