A small percentage of applicants are accepted into Naval Flight School and an even smaller percentage make it through.
If you’re here from a Reddit or Twitter thread, this blog post probably won’t add more than you already know!
Twitter user @PaigeAlissa tweeted out earlier yesterday (July 7, 2020) that her friend, who the internet ID’d as LTJG Swegle, completed her advanced flight training at Naval Air Station Kingsville with her last scheduled flight culminating in the time-honored tradition of a spray of water.
According to Alissa, this means LTJG Swegle is the first black female tactical jet pilot in Naval history!
Check out her awesome “grad” photos below.
Just my best friend making history pic.twitter.com/k0qG8kaZTr— Miss Alissa (@paigealissa) July 7, 2020
BZ to Lt. j.g. Madeline Swegle on completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus. Swegle is the @USNavy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month. HOOYAH! @FlyNavy @NASKPAO #ForgedByTheSea #CNATRA #CNATRAgrads pic.twitter.com/FKSlURWQhJ— Naval Air Training (@CNATRA) July 9, 2020
Thanks to some helpful Redditors and from a bit of Googling, they’ve pieced together some sort of confirmation and filled in any holes where the original Tweeter failed to provide further information.
LTJG = Lieutenant Junior Grade, which is the Navy O-2 rank. Equivalent is 1st Lieutenant in the Army, Air Force, and Marines.
I can confirm she had her last flight today in Kingsville with VT-21 doing SEM (Section Engaged Manuevering.) She CQ’d (Carrier Qualified) a few months ago. So this is a legit person and photo.
She is wearing her soft wings in this photo, signifying that she completed her undergraduate pilot training – she will be officially winged on some other day.
After this, she will find out where she is going – whether it is to fly the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, or F-35C Lightning II (unless she had selected E-2/C-2 before this out of Primary Flight Training, then she will go that route).
What did she have to do to get to this point?
To get to this point in her Naval Career required years of passing qualifications and flight training.
According to The Balance Careers, to be even considered for The Navy’s Pilot Program, you first have to be a commissioned officer. If you didn’t go through the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, if you have a bachelor’s degree, you can apply to go through the Officer Candidate School, a 12-week crash course in military studies at NAS Pensacola in Florida. If you don’t have a college degree, you can always join the Naval Reserve Officer’s Training Corps A.K.A. ROTC.
Applying for the Navy’s Pilot Program means passing the Aviation Selection Test Battery with a good enough score. If you pass with a good enough score and are accepted into the Naval Pilot’s program, you’re not in yet.
If you don’t have your private pilot’s license certificate, you have to complete 25 hours of instruction at a certified flight school including three solo flights, one being cross country.
After that begins a close to two-year journey that goes through four specific stages colloquially known as flight school including Aviation Pre-flight Indoctrination, Primary Flight Training, Intermediate Flight Training, and, Advanced Flight Training.
Those last two stages for Naval Jet Pilots is what LTJG Swegle just completed at NAS Kingsville.
The culmination of flight training at NAS Kingsville involves what’s called Carrier Qualification or, landing on an Air Craft Carrier.
The syllabus culminates in the second Carrier Qualification Stage when the students travel to an active aircraft carrier to complete their Carrier Qualification and make their first Carrier Landings. Every student must carrier qualify by completing 14 landings and 10 arrested landings aboard an Aircraft Carrier before they earn their Wings of Gold.
If you’ve made it this far, you can begin to understand the magnitude of her accomplishment.
Sorry folks, she’s taken
“So she is married to my room mate. She’s gonna fly EA-18G Growlers.“
What a small world the Reddit community is.
Why this matters.
A few in the Reddit community and on Twitter downplayed her being a woman and African American as part of the announcement of her accomplishment, citing all that matters in the sky is your qualifications and performance.
While that is true, women and the African American community, will probably appreciate excellence like this in their respective communities.
Youth discerning careers need positive role models like LTJG Swegle and a career in our Armed forces as a pilot is a fulfilling choice. You might not become a tactical jet pilot but there are several pipelines you can take if you make it in the Naval Pilot Program that’ll see you flying in the skies doing something you thought you’d never do.
So, congrats LTJG Swegle on your accomplishment and here’s to your career in the Navy!