Navy announces first Black female Tactical Aircraft pilot
The U.S. Navy announced its first Black female Tactical Aircraft pilot Thursday.
“BZ to Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle on completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus,” the Naval Air Training Command tweeted, using an abbreviation for the “Bravo Zulu,” meaning “well done.”
The Navy’s tweet also included a pair of images of the history-making pilot standing alongside a T-45C Goshawk training jet on Tuesday.
“Swegle is the @USNavy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month,” the announcement continued.
According the Navy, the ceremony will be held July 31.
Swegle is a Virginia native who graduated the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017, Stars and Stripes reported.
Student Naval Aviator Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle stands alongside a T-45C Goshawk training aircraft following her final flight to complete the undergraduate Tactical Air (Strike) pilot training syllabus, July 7, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Luke Redito/Released)
She is assigned to the Redhawks of Training Squadron 21 based out of Naval Air Station Kingsville in Texas.
Rear Adm. Paula Dunn, the Navy’s Vice Chief of Information, congratulated the pilot in a tweet of her own.
“Very proud of LTJG Swegle,” she wrote. “Go forth and kick butt.”
Graduates of the TACAIR program typically go on to fly F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers or F-35C Joint Strike Fighters, according to Stars and Stripes.
Swegle follows a path forged by Rosemary Mariner, who became the Navy’s first female tactical pilot in 1974.
Mariner went on to become the first woman to command a naval aviation squadron. The daughter of an Air Force pilot and a Navy nurse, she served from 1973 until 1997. She died in January 2019 after a long battle with ovarian cancer.
Another notable female pilot is Arizona Sen. Martha McSally – a retired Air Force colonel who was the first female fighter pilot to not only fly in combat, but also to command a fighter squadron in combat in U.S. history.
And Air Force Capt. Emily Thompson became the first female to fly the new F-35A Lightning II into combat last month.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Emily Thompson, 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilot, dons flight equipment at the Aircrew Flight Equipment shop on Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, June 5, 2020. Thompson is the first female to fly an F-35A Lightn (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kat Justen)
But Swegle’s accomplishment in the Navy also comes as the armed forces are attempting to tackle a number of racially charged issues.
Two years ago, two Black male aviators claimed they were removed from the Navy’s Tactical Aircraft training program due to their race. Investigators later said they had been mistreated but that their removal was not improper, according to The Drive.
Congress and the Department of Defense are looking into possibly removing the names of Confederate leaders from military facilities.
The Marine Corps banned Confederate symbols in its facilities earlier this year, and the Navy has announced plans to do something similar.
And the Army is investigating after handouts were distributed at a base in Alabama that painted President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan as a form of “covert” White supremacy.
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