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US Navy’s 1st Black female Tactical Aircraft pilot receives her ‘Wings of Gold’

KINGSVILLE, Texas — The U.S. Navy’s first Black female Tactical Aircraft pilot has received her “Wings of Gold,” a significant achievement for Naval Aviation.

The Navy shared congratulations in a tweet for Lt. j.g. Madeline “Maddy” Swegle, who received the distinction during a ceremony in Kingsville, Texas, on Friday.

Swegle was designated a naval aviator along with 25 classmates.

“We are all incredibly proud of Lt. j.g Swegle and the entire class,” said Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Robert Westendorff. “This is a wonderful personal achievement but also a testament to their dedication and drive to succeed in the tactical air training pipeline. I wish them all every success at the next level learning to fly our fleet aircraft.”

Swegle said she has dreamed of becoming a pilot ever since her parents took her to see the Blue Angels as a little girl.

Now, she is following in the footsteps of Brenda E. Robinson, the first Black female naval aviator, who earned her Wings of Gold in 1980.

Swegle became the U.S. Navy’s first Black female Tactical Aircraft pilot on July 7 after she completed her final undergraduate training in a T-45C Goshawk jet trainer, ABC News reported.

“MAKING HISTORY!” the U.S. Navy tweeted earlier in July.

The Naval Air Training Command tweeted that Swegle is the Navy’s “first known Black female TACAIR pilot.”

According to Stars and Stripes, Swegle is from Burke, Virginia, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

She reported to Naval Aviation Schools Command at NAS Pensacola, Florida, where she completed Initial Flight Screening and Aviation Preflight Indoctrination. She has also completed Primary flight training with the “Boomers” of VT-27 at NAS Corpus Christi.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet,” Swegle said. “It would’ve been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it’s encouraging to other people.”

You can read more about her qualifications on this page.

Officials said she is assigned to the Redhawks of Training Squadron 21.

Swegle’s milestone comes more than 45 years after Rosemary Mariner in 1974 became the first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet, according to news outlets.

The next steps for Swegle and her classmates is to advance to graduate-level flight training at their respective fleet replacement squadrons.

The video above is from the previous story about Swegle.

Copyright © 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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