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.
Amidst the Navy’s response to the global pandemic, instructors and students adjusted to COVID-19 spread mitigation measures including sterilizing surfaces, wearing masks, and social distancing when practical. Despite these challenges, this is the largest graduating class of strike aviators in almost a decade.
Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Robert Westendorff oversees all undergraduate flight training from the command headquarters at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas.
“We are all incredibly proud of Lt. j.g Swegle and the entire class,” Westendorff said. “This is a wonderful personal achievement but also 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 Indoctrination. She completed Primary flight training with the “Boomers” of VT-27 at NAS Corpus Christi, and after selecting the TACAIR, or Strike, pipeline, Swegle progressed to Intermediate and Advanced training with VT-21.
Swegle is part of a new generation of TACAIR pilots to qualify on state-of-the art Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) unique to aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78): the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG). She completed carrier qualifications in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, May 20.
“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.”
Chief of Legislative Affairs Rear Adm. Sara Joyner, a career naval aviator, served as guest speaker for the ceremony via teleconference.
“I’m incredibly proud of Lt. j.g. Swegle and her classmates and am excited to welcome them all to the fleet,” Joyner said. “There’s more work to do to make sure that we recruit, train and retain a diverse force that represents the best and brightest of this nation. Everything in Naval Aviation requires teamwork, and you will be judged by your professionalism, demonstrated capability, and leadership.”
Swegle and her classmates will advance to graduate-level flight training at their respective fleet replacement squadrons. Specific platform selection for the TACAIR training pipeline (F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, or F-35C Lightning II) typically occurs shortly before the winging ceremony. 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. VAQ-129 trains new naval aviators, naval flight officers, and naval aircrewmen in electronic warfare tactics, techniques, and procedures in preparation for their fleet assignments.
Swegle follows in the footsteps of Brenda E. Robinson, the Navy’s first African American female naval aviator. Robinson earned her Wings of Gold June 6, 1980 and was the 42nd woman to be designated a naval aviator.
“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.”
Chief of Naval Air Training trains the world’s finest combat quality aviation professionals, delivering them at the right time, in the right numbers, and at the right cost to a naval force that is where it matters, when it matters.
(U.S. Navy video by Austin Rooney/released)
Celebrating Hip-Hop’s Golden Anniversary at National Battle of the Bands
The 2023 Pepsi National Battle of the Bands (NBOTB) is turning up the heat to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. The event organizers announced an all-star lineup featuring Doug E. Fresh, aka “Human Beat Box,” Slim Thug, Choppa, Lil Keke, Z-Ro, DJ Mr. Rogers, and a special artist announcement on August 26. These artists will join the nation’s top Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) marching bands for an unforgettable musical experience.
The musical showcase, hosted in collaboration between Webber Marketing and the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority, occurs annually in Houston, TX, at NRG stadium. Event organizers have generated nearly $1 million in scholarships for the participating colleges and universities.
Recognized as the annual kickoff to the fall marching band season, NBOTB spotlights hip-hop legends shaping the genre’s rich history. The special anniversary celebration seeks to pay tribute to the cultural impact of hip-hop, intertwining with the spirit and soul of HBCU marching bands.
“The 50th anniversary of hip-hop is a significant milestone in our musical heritage,” said Derek Webber, executive producer and creator of the National Battle of the Bands. “We’re ecstatic to bring together the vibrant energy of HBCU bands with hip-hop pioneers, creating a unique synergy that honors the past and fuels the future. This year’s lineup symbolizes the unbreakable bond between music, culture, and education.”
The rich history of HBCUs extends beyond academia to a thriving tradition of soulful marching bands and community activism. Their performances are not just about the music but also the movement, passion, and creativity that resonate with the essence of hip-hop. This shared heritage makes celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop at NBOTB a momentous occasion in American culture.
For more details, including tickets and official event information, visit (NationalBattleOfTheBands.com) or follow.
Black in Gaming
The fast-paced gaming world will hit American movie theaters on Aug. 25 via the Sony movie “Gran Turismo.” The film is loosely based on the true story of gamer Jann Mardenborough (played by Archie Madekwe), a mixed-race teenager who becomes a real-life race car driver.
In 2011, Mardenborough became the third and youngest winner of the GT Academy competition, beating 90,000 entrants. Sony PlayStation used the Academy to help racing gamers become professional drivers.
Though his success is far and few between for Black gamers. Research shows that Black people make up a staggering 2% of the video game industry, and only 11% of Black characters are featured as the central player outside of athletes in sports games.
The nonprofit Black in Gaming Foundation is dedicated to cultivating, supporting, and promoting Black professionals in the video game industry. By actively working on creating opportunities for Black people in the video game industry, BIG also develops action plans to combat systemic institutionalized racism that manifests itself in unsafe spaces, microaggressions, and hidden discrimination in the workplace.
Also, soft-drink company Mountain Dew (MTN Dew) is doing its fair share to uplift minorities in Esports. The company is bringing back the MTN DEW Real Change Challenge in 2023, which focuses on promoting representation in Esports and gaming and supporting HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) student gamers.
MTN Dew is teaming up with Cxmmunity Media, a champion of diversity and equity in gaming and creators of the HBCU Esports League. The Real Change Challenge will be open to all current HBCU students. Contestants will compete for a share of the $500,000 prize pool, coaching, and exposure to esports professionals. The tournament will kick off in October, with sign-ups open to all current HBCU students through Sept. 8 at (HBCUESports.co/RealChange).
Black Weekend is Here!
The tax-free weekend is not only the best time to go shopping but THE prime time to socialize, network, and get involved in the community that we like to call Black Weekend.
Kicking off Black Weekend on Friday, Aug. 11, is the first annual Purchase Hire Black expo presented by Avista Products at the Freeman Expo Hall near the AT&T Center from 2 pm to 8 pm. The free expo is a great way to recognize Black Business Month as a way to celebrate and support Black-owned businesses. Later that night, check out famed jazz musician Najee, who will perform on Aug. 11 at 7:30 pm at the Buena Vista Theater downtown. He is a part of the 2023 jazz series dubbed “Jazz on the Water by Land & by Sea,” presented by Foster Perry Travel.
Then on Saturday, head over to the Renaissance with the Stars on Aug. 12 at the Tobin Center starting at 5 pm. This annual fundraiser supports the San Antonio Area African American Community Fund, which is a part of the San Antonio Area Foundation. This year’s dancers are Kit Mason, Jon Coker, Jacob Valenzuela, Juan Antonio Flores, George A. Williams, and Ryan Lugalia-Hollon.
After the Renaissance with the Stars, people can head to the 14th Annual All White Martini Party on Aug. 12, sponsored by Psi Alpha Scholarship Foundation, Inc., at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from 8 pm to 2 am.
And then, on Sunday, Aug. 13, choose between two soulful brunches or hit both starting at 9 am with Tony G’s Soul Food at its Soulful Brunch featuring Southern favorites until 4 pm. Or, check out the R&B Brunch Bash on that same day from 2 pm to 5 pm at the Upstage Comedy Lounge presented by the Brunch Boss & Young Black San Antonio.
And if you have a little energy left from Friday, bowl for a good cause. The Obadiah Jo’el McCarthy Memorial Scholarship Bowl-A-Thon starts at 2 pm at Banderal Bow. This event provides academic scholarships to high school seniors and includes awareness about organ donation.
To learn more about all these events, visit (www.Weekend.Black).
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