Navy’s first Black female tactical aircraft pilot to receive her ‘Wings of Gold’ tomorrow


KINGSVILLE, Texas (WJW) — Lieutenant Madeline “Maddy” Swegle, who made history earlier this month as the U.S. Navy’s first Black female Tactical Aircraft pilot, will receive her Wings of Gold on Friday.

“I am really honored that I get to wear the wings and get to fly planes and call myself a pilot,” Swegle said in a video released by the Navy on Tuesday.

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

She says she dreamed of becoming a pilot since she was a little girl and her parents would take her to see the Blue Angels perform.

“My parents raised me and they told me that I can be whatever I wanted to be. We would go see the Blue Angels when they were in town,” she said. “They were just so cool I loved them. I love fast planes.” 

Lt j.g. Madeline Swegle exits a T-45C Goshawk training aircraft after completing her final flight of the undergraduate Tactical Air (Strike) pilot training syllabus at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas, July 7. Credit: Anne Owens/US Navy

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

Swegle says she hopes there will be more women and minority women who become pilots. She believes representation in the field is important because America is a very diverse nation.

“I hope that my legacy will be that there will be a lot of other women and minority women and just different faces that come. Be encouraged and know that they have all the tools that they need and follow their dreams,” said Swegle.

Commanding Officer of Training Matthew Maher says that through her training Swegle has achieved the standard of excellence.

“To show up here at this level, you need to be a top performer and then you have to continue to perform while you’re here,” he said. “These are the best pilots in the world that are trained here, the very best. She, just like all of her fellow Wingees, are at that standard of excellence and they’re going to go out and make all of us very proud.”

Her winging ceremony will take place on July 31 at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas.

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