Madeline Swegle becomes U.S. Navy’s 1st Black female fighter pilot

Sen. Kamala Harris sent her praises, 'Congratulations Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle! You’re paving the way for young girls everywhere'

Madeline Swegle
Madeline Swegle (Photo by: Anne Owens/U.S. Navy)

History has been made this week with the announcement that Madeline Swegle is set to become the U.S. Navy’s first Black female tactical fighter pilot. 

The announcement was made on Twitter where the Chief of Naval Air Training saluted Swede with a “BZ” which stands for “Bravo Zulu,” a term used by the navy which means “well done.” 

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“BZ to Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle on completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus.” The post read, “Swegle is the @USNavy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month.” 

Training to become a fighter pilot is extensive. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command website, women have only been flying jets for the Navy for forty years. One of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots, Captain Rosemary Mariner said, “In modern warfare, the emphasis is not on physical strength but on brain power operating sophisticated weapons systems,” she said, “A machine gun is a great equalizer.” 

Swegle is a Virginia native who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017. Her unit is currently the Redhawks of Training Squadron based in Texas. However, she will go on to be assigned to a team of strike fighters. 

Her father, Carey Manhertz played basketball for the Navy. He posted on Twitter, “It’s official. My daughter, Maddy continues rise.” 

Navy Rear Admiral, Paula Dunn, tweeted her congratulations saying, “Very proud of LTJG Swegle. Go forth and kick butt.” 

Senator Kamala Harris also chimed in with praise tweeting, “Congratulations Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle! You’re paving the way for young girls everywhere.” 

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

Swegle will receive her Wings of Gold in a special ceremony on July 31. 

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