Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force Veteran Nicole Malachowski, who was the first female pilot to fly with the Thunderbirds.
Nicole Malachowski was born in Santa Maria, California. She had dreams of flying military jets since she was five years old. In high school, Malachowski participated in the Nevada Wing of the Civil Air Patrol and Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps where she earned the highest rank available to cadets. When Malachowski was 16, she took her first solo flight. In 1992, she graduated from Western High School. By this time, Malachowski began working on her pilot’s license.
She attended the United States Air Force Academy where she earned a bachelor’s degree in management with a French minor. Malachowski commissioned in 1996 and graduated undergraduate pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base. She went on to pilot F-15E Strike Eagles.
Malachowski became the first woman to fly with the U.S. Air Force Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Thunderbirds. She was the #3 pilot, flying on the right wing.
Malachowski later attended American Military University where she earned a master’s of degree in national security policy. She furthered her studies by earning a second master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the United States Naval War College.
From 2008 to 2009, Malachowski participated in the White House Fellows Program and focused on the General Services Administration where she worked on the Presidential Transition Support Team as deputy chief of staff. She also commanded the 333rd Flying Squadron, where she trained more than 200 students to fly the F-15E. After 21 years of service, Malachowski was medically retired due to illness.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Editor: Michelle Cannon