Woman Makes History as First Black Female Tactical Jet Pilot in the U.S. Navy

History was recently made in the U.S. Navy. In early July, Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Swegle became the first Black woman to ever become a tactical jet pilot. Her friend, Alissa (aka @paigealissa), tweeted a photo of LTJG Swegle posing in front of a jet after completing her last scheduled flight. In addition to that photo, Alissa also shared a picture of LTJG Swegle getting sprayed with water—a time-honored tradition to celebrate the accomplishment.

LTJG Swegle’s friend didn’t provide much context, except to share the photos and point out that her pal made history. Luckily, Redditors helped fill in the missing pieces to reveal the hard work and dedication needed to shatter boundaries and make history as a Black woman.

Redditor ZugZugWorkWorkDabu, who is in the Navy, provided some insight into where LTJG Swegle will go now that her training is done. “Given that she has her soft wings from Kingsville, and that her last flight was in SEM (Section Engaged Maneuvering),” they wrote, “she is going to soon find out whether she selected F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, or F-35C Lightning II.” In reply to that comment, Redditor hardcoredolphin said, “So she is married to my roommate. She’s gonna fly EA-18G Growlers.” This will take LTJG Swegle to Whidbey Island in Washington state.

So, how does one get to LTJG Swegle's level? Essentially, it involves years of passing qualifications and flight training. Some possible paths are starting with the U.S. Naval Academy or Officer Candidate School (for those with a bachelor’s degree). The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, aka the ROTC, is another option. Then comes the application for the Navy’s Pilot Program and passing the Aviation Selection Test Battery. From there, it's a nearly two-year journey through flight school.

Knowing the dedication and skill it takes to fly these jets, this history-making moment provides valuable representation for any Black girls who would like to one day serve in the Navy like LTJG Swegle.

h/t: [Reddit, TMR]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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