• Sat. Sep 26th, 2020

Navy’s first Black female tactical air pilot earns Wings of Gold in Texas

Texas Student Naval Aviator Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle, assigned to the Redhawks of Training Squadron (VT) 21 at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, stands by a T-45C Goshawk training aircraft following her final flight to complete the undergraduate Tactical Air (Strike) pilot training syllabus. Swegle is the Navy’s first known Black female strike aviator. U.S. Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Luke Redito

By Lt. Michelle Tucker 

Chief of Naval Air Training Public Affairs 

The U.S. Navy’s first Black female tactical air (TACAIR) pilot received her Wings of Gold July 31, marking a significant milestone for Naval Aviation. Virginia native Lt. j.g. Madeline G. Swegle was designated a naval aviator and received her Wings of Gold with 25 classmates during a small ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, Texas. 

Swegle is assigned to the “Redhawks” of Training Squadron (VT) 21 under Training Air Wing 2 at NAS Kingsville and completed her final undergraduate TACAIR training flight in a T-45C Goshawk jet trainer aircraft July 7. VT-21 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Matthew Maher presented Wings of Gold to each of his graduates during the ceremony. 

“We are all incredibly proud of Lt. j.g Swegle and the entire class,” Westendorff said. “This is a wonderful personal achievement and a testament to their dedication and drive to succeed in the tactical air training pipeline. I wish them all every success at the next level learning to fly our fleet aircraft.” [ 

A 2017 U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Swegle reported to Naval Aviation Schools Command at NAS Pensacola, Florida, where she completed Initial Flight Screening and Aviation Preflight  

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet,” Swegle said. “It would’ve been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it’s encouraging to other people.” 

“Lt. j.g. Swegle has proven to be a courageous trailblazer,” Commander, Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. DeWolfe “Bullet” Miller III said. “She has joined a select group of people who earned Wings of Gold and answered the call to defend our nation from the air. The diversity of that group—with differences in background, skill and thought—makes us a stronger fighting force.” 

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