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Madeline Swegle to Earn Golden Wings, Becoming First Black Female Tactical Fighter Pilot In U.S. Navy History

Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle has made history as the first Black woman to become a tactical fighter pilot in the history of the Navy.

Swegle finished the Tactical AirStrike aviator syllabus and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month, according to a tweet from the Naval Air Training Command.

Her completion of this program means she will be qualified to pilot several types of planes including the the EA-18G Growler, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter.

Swegle is a 2017 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, reported The Navy Times. She is currently based at the Naval Air Station Kingsville in Texas, where she is a member of the Redhawks of Training Squadron (VT) 21.

Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle (above) will earn her wings as a tactical fighter pilot later this month, the first Black woman to accomplish this feat. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Supporters took to social media to share their well-wishes for the pilot.

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

“Congratulations to USNA Class of 2017 grad, Lt.j.g. Madeline Swegle, who will become the first known African American female Navy jet pilot when she receives her Wings of Gold in Kingsville, Texas later this month!” tweeted the U.S. Naval Academy.

“Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle is the Advancement we love to see,” the NAACP’s official Twitter account stated.

Like many organizations, the Navy is working on promoting diversity within its ranks. In 2018, a Military.com probe found only 26 of the Navy’s 1404 F/A-18 Hornet pilots were Black. There were only 33 women, and only one of them wasn’t white.

Swegle’s accomplishment came four decades after Lt. Cmdr. Brenda Robinson became the first Black female graduate of the Aviation Officer Candidate School, according to The Navy Times. A year later, she became the first Black woman to be certified to perform C-1A carrier onboard delivery carrier landings.

In 2001, Capt. Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour became the first Black female pilot to fly for the Marine Corps and the first Black female combat pilot in the history of the U.S. Military, per Military.com.

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