We tell our kids as they grow up that they can be anything they want to be. The reality is, someone has to make history – why not them? Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle of Burke, Virginia was one of the few who actually did it. After years of work, she graduated from the Naval Academy and proceeded to complete a Tactical Air (Strike) training program, making her the first Black female tactical fighter pilot.
She was congratulated by the Chief of Naval Air Training on Twitter with a hearty “BZ”, meaning “Bravo Zulu” – the term combines Bravo and Zulu nautical signal flags, and is regularly used in The Navy to say “well done”.
BZ to Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle on completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus. Swegle is the @USNavy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month. HOOYAH! @FlyNavy @NASKPAO #ForgedByTheSea #CNATRA #CNATRAgrads pic.twitter.com/FKSlURWQhJ
— Naval Air Training (@CNATRA) July 9, 2020
This historic milestone has been a long time coming, and surprisingly, wasn’t attainable until very recently. It wasn’t until 2016 that all military positions were even open to female applicants. It was also in 2016 that Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris became the first Black woman in the Air Force to achieve the lieutenant general rank.
Military.com stated that in 2018, Black fighter pilots made up an incredibly small 1.9% of all pilots assigned to four of the most common fighter jets (the F/A-18 Hornet, EA-18 Growler, E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound). That same year, females only made up 7% of all pilots in the Navy.
Clearly, there is still a long way to go in terms of increasing diversity in the Navy. However, that’s part of what makes Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle’s accomplishment so worthy of celebration. She is making history and paving the way for others to do the same. She is empowering other Black females to follow their dreams, even in a field that is still very new to welcoming them with open arms.
Swegle is receiving well-deserved praise from around the world.
From her best friend,
Just my best friend making history pic.twitter.com/k0qG8kaZTr
— Miss Alissa (@paigealissa) July 7, 2020
From former naval aviators,
Congratulations, LT JG Madeline Swegle. Welcome to the best flying organization on earth. Fly Navy, and fly safe! https://t.co/OxoZNfKHUr
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) July 10, 2020
And even from her little sister.
Just my older sister being a boss everyday of her life. Proud of her doesn’t even cover it😌 https://t.co/aAa4tsfiPV
— Sophie (@bookworm204) July 8, 2020
And now, from us. Congratulations Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle!