Who is Madeline Swegle? The first Black female tactical jet pilot in the U.S. Navy
Swegle's achievement is a historical milestone and comes almost 110 years after the beginning of naval aviation, when the first piloted plane took off from the USS Birmingham in 1910.
A woman and an African American, Lieutenant Madeline Swegle has broken a new glass ceiling in the U.S. Armed Forces by completing the program as a tactical jet pilot, becoming a pioneer who will go down in the history books.
"Swegle is the first black woman known as a TACAIR pilot in the Navy and will receive her golden wings later this month," the Navy's Chief of Air Training reported last Thursday on Facebook. The lieutenant dedicated a glowing abbreviation, "BZ," which means "Well done!".
That way, the military will be able to fly fighter planes like the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter or the EA-18G Growler, the Navy Times reported.
Public figures such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and tennis player Billie Jean King celebrated the milestone, although perhaps the most enthusiastic applause came from Rear Admiral Paula Dunn, the Navy's deputy chief of information, who tweeted her pride and encouraged Swegle with a "Get out there and kick some ass!"
Swegle is not the first woman in the Navy to fly a tactical jet, a feat accomplished in 1974 by Rosemary Mariner. But she is a pioneer in holding the position, following the legacy of other Black women, such as Brenda Robinson, who in the 1980s was the African-American pioneer to become a Navy flight instructor and VIP transport pilot, according to CNN.
While the Navy has been widely criticized for the lack of diversity in its aviation programs — an investigation published a couple of years ago showed a shortage of pilots of color — it seems to be living, albeit slowly, an era of openness with high-flying ambassadors like Lieutenant Swegle.
We're dedicating another BZ to her. "Get out there and kick some ass from the air!"