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Navy's first Black, female fighter pilot earns 'Wings of Gold'

Navy's first Black, female fighter pilot earns 'Wings of Gold'
© credit: Twitter/@CNATRA

The Navy’s first known Black female strike fighter pilot, Lt. j.g. Madeline G. Swegle, earned her "Wings of Gold" on Friday. 

Swegle was designated as a naval aviator and awarded her gold naval aviator wings along with 25 classmates during a small ceremony at a Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas, the Navy announced Friday.

The recognition marks the pilot’s official completion of basic helicopter training in naval flight school, according to a report from NBC News.

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“I’m excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet,” Swegle said in a statement. “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.”

Swegle first graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017, and became the military branch's first Black female fighter pilot after she finished tactical air training earlier in July, according to NBC.  

Stars and Stripes noted that graduates of the grueling tactical air program generally go on to fly the Navy's flagship fighter jets, including the Super Hornet.  

Swegle will report to the “Vikings” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 at NAS Whidbey Island in Washington to begin training as an EA-18G Growler pilot, the Navy said.

In 1974, Rosemary Mariner became the first woman in the Navy to fly tactical jets as well as the first to command an operational naval aviation squadron.