After nearly 110 years of naval aviation, the US Navy has welcomed its first Black female tactical jet pilot.

Madeline Swegle has made history as the US Navy’s first Black female tactical aircraft pilot.

Her completion of the tactical air training program paves the way for her to fly fighter jets such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter or the EA-18G Growler, according to the Navy Times. In 1974, Rosemary Mariner became the first woman in the Navy to fly a tactical jet. And in the 1980s, Brenda Robinson was the first African American woman to earn her wings of gold and become a Navy flight instructor, evaluator and VIP transport pilot, according to the non-profit organization Women in Aviation International.

On June 30, the Navy announced it created a special task force called “Task Force One Navy” to address the issues of “racism, sexism and other destructive biases and their impact on naval readiness.”.


The Navy has been criticized for the lack of diversity in its aviation programs. A 2018 investigation from found that Black pilots were rare in the service, especially in fighter units. Just 1.9% of all pilots assigned to the F/A-18 Hornet, EA-18 Growler, E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound were Black. Out of 1,404 Hornet pilots, just 33 were female and 26 were Black. Women also make up a small percentage of aviators in the service. As of 2018, the Navy had 765 female pilots, less than 7% of all pilots across the ranks, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

Madeline Swegle recently completed the service’s Tactical Air (Strike) training program in the T-45C Goshawk. The milestone certifies Swegle, a Naval Academy graduate, the first known Black woman who has been certified for the TACAIR mission, and she could go on to fly other fighters and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month.


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