Madeline Swegle, first African-American fighter pilot


American Navy has graduated its first African-American female strike fighter pilot.

She is Madeline Swegle, a Virginia native from Burke.

She will receive her Wings of Gold on July 31, according to Naval Air Training Command.

Swegle first graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017, according to Stars and Stripes.


She completed her tactical air pilot training syllabus at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, this week, qualifying her to fly F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, among others.

Rosemary Mariner was the first woman in the Navy to fly tactical jets in 1974 as well as the first to command an operational naval aviation squadron, Stars and Stripes noted.

Swegle’s achievement comes as pilots have said the Navy’s aviation community needs more diversity in its ranks.


A 2018 investigation by revealed that Black pilots are rare in the service, particularly in fighter units.

According to Navy data provided that year, 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.

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.



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