US Navy Welcomes First Black Female Tactical Jet Pilot After Nearly 110 Years
The US Navy has welcomed its first ever Black female tactical aircraft pilot, the first time in 110 years.
Madeline Swegle will receive her Wings of Gold later this month after completing her tactical air training programme, which will allow her to fly fighter jets such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter or the EA-18G Growler.
She is the first known Black female to make the accomplishment, almost 110 years after naval aviation began, when Eugene Burton Ely flew an aircraft off the cruiser USS Birmingham anchored in the Chesapeake Bay on November 14, 1910.
The Chief of Naval Air Training took to Facebook to congratulate Swegle, writing:
Bravo Zulu (means well done) to Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle on completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus.
Swegle is the US Navy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month, the Navy Times reports.
Paula Dunn, the Navy’s vice chief of information, also heaped praise on Swegle, tweeting: ‘Very proud of LTJG Swegle. Go forth and kick butt.’
Senator Elizabeth Warren and tennis hero Billie Jean King also pledged their public support for Swegle, with Warren tweeting: ‘Congratulations, LTJG Swegle! You make the @USNavy and our country stronger.’
Swegle follows a string of powerful women who have paved the way for women in the armed forces – particularly in the Navy – for achievements such as this.
According to Women in Aviation International, Rosemary Mariner became the first woman to fly a tactical jet in the US Navy in 1974 and Brenda Robinson later became the first African American woman to earn her Wings of Gold and become a Navy flight instructor, evaluator and VIP transport pilot.
The Navy has been criticised for a lack of diversity within its aviation programmes in the past, after it was discovered that fewer than 2% of all pilots assigned to the F/A-18 Hornet, EA-18 Growler, E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound were Black.
Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Gilday said in a statement:
As a Navy, uniform and civilian, active and reserve, we cannot tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind. We must work to identify and eliminate individual and systemic racism within our force.
Last month, the Navy revealed its new task force, Task Force One Navy, designed to address issues of ‘racism, sexism and other destructive biases and their impact on naval readiness.’
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]