Madeline Swegle becomes US Navy’s first Black female fighter pilot in its 110-year history

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Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle has made history by becoming the U.S. Navy’s first Black female tactical fighter pilot.

The Chief of Naval Air Training congratulated Swegle on completing her training on Facebook Thursday and said she will receive her “Wings of Gold” later this month.

“BZ to Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle on completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus,” the post read, using the abbreviation for Bravo Zulu, which means “well done.”

Swegle also earned praise from Rear Adm. Paula Dunn, the Navy’s vice chief of information, Sen. Elizabeth Warrenand tennis legend Billie Jean King.

“Very proud of LTJG Swegle,” Dunn tweeted. “Go forth and kick butt.”

Swegle graduated the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017 and is now assigned to the Redhawks of Training Squadron (VT) 21 at Naval Air Station Kingsville in Texas, according to the Navy Times.

The news of Swegle’s achievement came the same day a female soldier graduated from the Army’s elite Special Forces course, becoming the first woman to join a Green Beret team.

Her historic milestone comes more than 45 years after Rosemary Mariner became the first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet in 1974, the Associated Press reported. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Brenda Robinson became the first African American woman to earn her wings of gold and become a Navy flight instructor, evaluator and VIP transport pilot, according to Women in Aviation International.

A 2018 investigation from Military.com found that out of 1,404 F/A-18 Hornet pilots just 26 were Black and 33 were female. Less than 2% of all pilots assigned to jet platforms were Black, the outlet reported.

Just last month, the Navy announced the formation of a special task force called “Task Force One Navy” to address the issues of “racism, sexism and other destructive biases and their impact on naval readiness.”

“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,” Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday said in a statement.

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