A Black woman is making history in the United States armed services. On Thursday, it was announced that the U.S. Navy has just named its first-ever Black female tactical aircraft pilot.

“BZ [Bravo Zulu] to Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle on completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus with VT-21 Redhawks at NAS Kingsville, Texas,” the chief of naval air training wrote in a Facebook post celebrating the accomplishment. “Swegle is the U.S. Navy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month. HOOYAH!”

According to the Navy Times, Swegle’s completion of the undergraduate Tactical Air (Strike) pilot training syllabus makes her eligible to fly certain aircrafts, like the Boeing F/A Super Hornet. Her advancement will be marked by a ceremony on July 31.

Though Swegle is the “first known” TACAIR pilot, she joins a rich legacy of Black women within the service who have made their mark on history. Lt. Cmdr. Brenda Robinson is said to be a trailblazer, becoming the first Black female flight instructor, evaluator and VIP transport pilot in the Navy, among a host of other accomplishments.

Capt. Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour was the first female combat pilot in the entire U.S. military, reports the Navy Times

Swegle’s promotion comes as the U.S. Navy attempts to brand itself as a champion for diversity and inclusion. At the end of June, the military branch announced that it had established a taskforce to combat discrimination among its ranks. 

“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,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations. “That is why we are standing up Task Force One Navy, which will work to identify and remove racial barriers and improve inclusion within our Navy.” 

Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle’s history-making accomplishment is a great way to mark a new era of change.


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