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Posted under: Culture

Madeline Swegle Is The The First Black Woman To Become A Fighter Jet Pilot In The U.S. Navy

Only 2.7% of Navy pilots were Black as of 2018.

Virginia native Madeline Swegle has made history, earning her wings as the first Black woman to become a fighter jet pilot in the U.S. Navy.

In a congratulatory tweet posted on Thursday, the U.S. Navy said the lieutenant will officially get her Wings of Gold later this month.  

“BZ to Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle on completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus,” the Naval Air Training Command stated, using an abbreviation of bravo zulu, which means well done. 

According to UPI, Swegle graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017 and completed tactical air pilot training last week at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. The pilot is now qualified to fly the F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, as well as other planes.


The pilot received congratulatory tweets from several individuals, including Sen. Kamala Harris.

"Congratulations, Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle! You’re paving the way for young girls everywhere," Harris wrote.


Astronaut Scott Kelly also acknowledged the lieutenant.

"Congratulations, LT JG Madeline Swegle. Welcome to the best flying organization on earth. Fly Navy, and fly safe!" Kelly wrote.


Two years ago, the Navy faced a controversial incident involving two Black pilots. According to Stars and Stripes, the two men said they were kicked out of the tactical air training program because of their race. The Navy’s investigation didn’t find evidence of discrimination but concluded that the pilots didn’t get “appropriate dignity and respect” from instructors.

Last month, the branch formed Task Force One Navy to address racism, sexism and other issues of discrimination within its ranks. Making the announcement on June 30, the Navy said Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey will lead the task force and report to Adm. Mike Gilday, the chief of Naval Operations.

"As a Navy – uniform and civilian, active and reserve — we cannot tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind,” Gilday said in a statement. “We must work to identify and eliminate individual and systemic racism within our force.”

According to The Drive, only 2.7% of Navy pilots were Black as of 2018. The Navy plans to hold the ceremony for Swegle on July 31.

Although Swegle is the first Black woman to become a fighter jet pilot in the Navy, Brenda E. Robinson became the first Black female pilot in the Navy in 1980, Stars And Stripes reported. Additionally, Martha McSally, who is now a U.S. senator from Arizona, served in the Air Force 25 years ago and became the first American woman to fly in combat for any military branch. 

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