BLUE ANGELS COMMANDER
Alexander Armatas official photo as Blue Angel #1. (US Navy Photo)
Cmdr. Alex Armatas, commanding officer and flight leader of the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, renders a salute prior to a training flight over Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro. Applicants are required to have a minimum of 3,000 flight hours and be in current command or have had past command of a tactical jet squadron. Armatas previously served as the commanding officer of the "Gunslingers" of Strike Fighter Squadron 105. His previous assignments include multiple squadron tours, where he deployed aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Cmdr. Armatas holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Armatas has more than 4,000 flight hours and more than 900 carrier-arrested landings. His decorations include multiple units and personal awards. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cody Deccio/Released, further info by Brenda Duncan via https://www.stripes.com/)
Alexander Armatas is the son of the late Telemahos "Telly" Armatas, of Syracuse, NY, (passed away onDecember 10, 2013). Telemahos was born in Fterno, Lefkada, Greece to Spiro and Evangelia Armatas (Sklavenitis) on March 17, 1954. He moved to Syracuse from Athens, Greece at the age of 16 and, faced with the difficulties of young adulthood, he learned English and graduated from Nottingham High School. He went on to a number of jobs but ultimately landed at FedEx, where he worked as a courier for 27 years. He married Kathy Burke and the couple was blessed with four children, Alexander, Gabriel, Christopher and Evangelia. Alexander’s passion for aviation was inherited from his father.
"He took me to the Syracuse airport when I was really young, probably six or seven years old. I remember seeing the airplanes and being fascinated. As I learned about aviation and developed my passion for aviation, I started to lean toward the military just because of the opportunities. I wanted to do the hardest thing there was to do in aviation and really challenge myself. At the time, and probably even now, you could argue the hardest thing to do in aviation is land a high-performance aircraft on an aircraft carrier. There’s only one place you can do that."
Alexander Armatas went to school in Jordan-Elbridge and finished his last two years of high school in Skaneateles. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering. Alexander was designated a Naval Aviator at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, Mississippi, in June 2005, and received order to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115, the “Eagles” at NAS Lemoore, California. There he served as Schedules Officer, Line Division Officer, Weapons Training Officer, Landing Signal Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, and Safety Officer. He completed three deployments on board USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. During his tour, Alexander received the 2008 George H. W. Bush Leadership award. In 2009, he graduated from the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor (TOPGUN) course at NAS Fallon, Nevada, and subsequently joined the “Flying Eagles” of VFA-122 at NAS Lemoore as an Instructor Pilot There he was named the 2010 VFA-122 Instructor Pilot of the Year. Upon completion of his instructor tour, Alexander reported to the “Tophatters” of VFA-14 in Lemoore, California, as Training Officer and deployed aboard USS John C Stennis (CVN-74) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. There he received the 2013 Lieutenant Commander Michael G. Hoff Attack Aviator of the Year award. Following his Training Officer tour, Alexander reported to the VFA-143 “Pukin’ Dogs” at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia, as a Department Head, where he deployed aboard USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. In December 2016, Alexander received orders to the Navy Personnel Command (NPC) in Millington, Tennessee, as Strike Fighter Placement Officer, after which he reported to the “Gunslingers” of VFA-105. He became Executive Officer in October 2019, and assumed command in January 2021. While assigned to VFA- 105, he deployed twice aboard USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN-69) in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and was awarded the 2020 Navy and Marine Corps Association Leadership Award. Alexander joined the Blue Angels in August 2022. He has accumulated more than 4,100 flight hours and 911 carrier-arrested landings. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, four Strike/Flight Air Medals, five Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various personal, unit and service awards. Cmdr. Alexander Armatas officially took command of the Naval Flight Exhibition Team on November 13, 2022, at a ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla. and became the commanding officer and lead pilot for the Blue Angels’ air shows in 2023 and 2024. Commander Officer and Flight Leader Alexander Armatas stated regarding being a blue angel and a leader of the famous team.
"The opportunity to join the blue angels and represent those eight hundred thousand navy marine core members to the general public was something I couldn't pass... so I applied and I was lucky enough to be selected for the team….It’s absolutely humbling and I’m honored to be here to represent the Navy and Marine Corps team….Throughout my career as an F/A-18 pilot, I’ve always looked to the Blues as a source of inspiration."
Our team wishes him good luck and happy landings to his new post which makes proud all Greek community all over the world.
The US Navy Flight Demonstration Team, AKA the Blue Angels, traded in their high-mileage legacy F/A-18A, F/A-18C, and F/A-18D Hornets at the end of 2020. The Blues are flying (with one or two notable exceptions) the oldest currently airworthy Super Hornets worldwide. Every one of their jets came from the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) batches. In order, the E model jets are numbers 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 17, 20, 21, and 26 off the production line. The F models are numbers 8, 10, and 18. So to say the Blues are flying "new" jets is inaccurate. The jets might be "new" to the Blues, but they’ve all been thoroughly flown before. Most of them were actually new back in the 1999-2000 timeframe. It’s also important to note that the jets, like their legacy Hornet predecessors, sometimes wear different tail numbers during service with the Blues. The Greek American Blue Angles Commander flies the #1 jet which is most probably the BuNo 165666. F/A-18E BuNo 165666 (MSN 1517/E020) is one of only two E-model Super Hornets deployed aboard an aircraft carrier. The jet first served with VFA-106. During the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CONA) celebration in 2011, the plane wore side number AD 114 and a color scheme resembling that of VA-106 when deployed aboard the USS Forrestal in 1967. The jet also served with VX-31 wearing side number DD 201. As recently as 2018 666 was on the dance card of VFA-146 Blue Diamonds, where it wore side number NH 302. Since going to the Blue Angels 666 has only been observed wearing the Boss’s tail number: 1. (Artwork Tom Cooper, information by Bill Walton via https://avgeekery.com.)
Thanks to Themis Trakas for bringing Alexander Armatas story to our attention.