Though she put away her jumping spikes a few years ago, Lake Braddock alumna Maddie Manhertz Swegle is still flying through the air, this time in a navy fighter jet. On Friday, she will become the first African American tactical air pilot.
Though she was primarily a long and triple jumper at Lake Braddock and later at the U.S. Naval Academy, Swegle was willing to pitch in on the track too, including running a leg of the 2012 AAA state champion outdoor 3200 meter relay team that finished with a six-second lead over West Springfield in 9:20.9.
“My guess is that she enjoyed jumping more than she enjoyed the 400 and 800, but if we needed her on a relay, she was always in,” said Bruins Coach Mike Mangan. “That tells you a lot about her, doing that for the state championship. She was super team oriented and her teammate adored her. People felt good just being around her.”
Swegle, a lieutenant (junior grade), completed her final training flight in a T-45C Goshawk jet trainer aircraft July 7, according to the Navy, which did not make her available for interview.
In a brief video released by the Navy’s public affairs office, Swegle said she didn’t set out knowing she was on pace to break a racial barrier for pilots.
“It was just something I was interested in and I found out later,” she said.
Swegle recalled seeing the Blue Angels as a child.
“I loved the fast planes,” she said.
The process of learning flight skills appealed to her.
“It’s fun because it is difficult,” she said. “I knew that I had to work to get (the plane) to behave. It took a lot of fighting the aircraft and figuring out how it was going to perform.
“It’s really rewarding to have the plane do whatever you want it to. It takes time and you definitely notice yourself improving,”
Swegle wants her legacy to show that minority women will receive the encouragement to pursue their dreams.
“I think representation is important, I would like everyone to believe that they could achieve whatever they want to do,” she said.
Naval Cmdr. Matthew Maher anticipated her achievement leading the way for more minority women in naval aviation.
“It may be a long time coming, but here she is, and there’s going to be more to follow now,” he said.
Mangan wasn’t surprised by Swegle’s accomplishments.
“She was always ‘that girl’ achieving great things in high school, and now she’s ‘that woman’ doing it as an adult,” he said.
“I’m not surprised that Maddy did something incredibly awesome. I am a little surprised that it’s taken this long for the Navy to have a black tactical female pilot, but she’s the kind of person who would do it.”
Divided lanes coming to Hains Point, safety measures in the works for the Mount Vernon Trail, three locals make national high school XC meet, local collegians race at NCAAs.
St. Albans and GVS’s Vivian Kelly won their first DC cross country titles while St. Johns’ girls and St. Albans’ Pierre Attiogbe repeated.
Beach Drive remains closed to through traffic year-round, locals win conference, USATF titles.
Capt. Kyle King won the Marine Corps Marathon, a year after he planned to make his debut at the race, and Chelsea Baker of the British Royal Navy made tremendous strides winning the women’s race.
Born in 1984 as the George Washington Parkway Classic, it is among the most scenic and spacious distance races on the East Coast. From the serene beauty of our spacious course meandering through the finest spring bloom in the DC