Skip to comments.Thunderbirds fulfill her lifelong need for speed (first woman to fly with squadron, #3 right wing)
Posted on 10/01/2006 8:23:12 AM PDT by ajolympian2004
Just an awe inspiring story!
By Alex Quade CNN
WICHITA, Kansas (CNN) -- Air Force Maj. Nicole Malachowski says she always has wanted to fly -- and fly fast. She got her private pilot's certificate before she got her driver's license, and she's been soaring ever since.
When Congress changed the rules in the early 1990s, allowing women to fly combat missions, her future was sealed. Now at 31, Malachowski is the newest member of the Air Force's Thunderbird demonstration squadron -- the first woman on any U.S. military high performance jet team.
"People talk about glass ceilings or breaking barriers," she said. "I don't even understand those concepts. Those words have actually never existed in my life."
She pointed to her name on the side of her F-16. "I'm so glad I live in a country where at 5 years old I can say, 'Hey I'm going to grow up and be a fighter pilot,' and here it is."
Even before she flew the No. 3 jet on the right wing of the Thunderbirds' diamond formation, Malachowski had an impressive career as a pilot.
After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996, she excelled in the U.S. Air Force. She eventually served as an F-15E instructor pilot and a flight commander for a squadron of fighter jets based in the United Kingdom. Over her decade-long military career, she has amassed more than 1,600 flight hours. Nearly 200 of those hours are in combat zones -- Iraq and Kosovo, where she provided close-air support for U.S. ground troops.
"When you go into combat, you kind of get into the zone like a professional athlete," she said. "You're thinking about the facts; you're thinking about the execution of the mission; you go out there and you do it.
(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...
Air Force Maj. Nicole Malachowski is the newest member of the Thunderbirds and the demonstration team's first woman.
Her nickname, or "tactical call-sign" is Fifi.
Her full bio at the Thunderbirds website - http://www.thunderbirds.acc.af.mil/wordfiles/bios/3.doc
U.S. Air Force Biography
Major Nicole M. E. Malachowski
Maj. Nicole Malachowski, 31, in her first season with the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, Thunderbirds, flies the No. 3 jet as the right wing pilot in the diamond formation.
Major Malachowski entered the Air Force in 1996 upon graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Before her assignment to the team, Major Malachowski served as an F-15E Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander with the 494th Fighter Squadron, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. She has logged more than 1,300 hours as an Air Force pilot, with more than 1,000 hours in the F-15E.
1996 Bachelor of Science, Business Management, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.
2002 Squadron Officers School, Maxwell AFB, Ala., distinguished graduate
Rating: Senior Pilot
Flight Hours: More than 1,300 hours
Aircraft flown: T-37, T-38, AT-38, F-15E, F-16C/D
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant May 29, 1996
First Lieutenant May 29, 1998
Captain May 29, 2000
Major April 1, 2006
1. December 1996-March 1998, Student, Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 98-03, Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.
2. March 1998-January 1999, Student, F-15E Formal Training Unit, 333rd Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
3. January 1999-October 2000, F-15E pilot, Ground Training Officer, Standardization and Evaluation Liaisons Officer, 492nd Fighter Squadron, RAF Lakenheath, England
4. October 2000-January 2003, F-15E Instructor Pilot, Chief of Life Support, Assistant Chief of Scheduling, Weapons Flight Electronic Combat Pilot, Functional Check Flight Pilot, Supervisor of Flying, 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
5. January 2003-January 2004, Army Liaison Officer, Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, Deputy Director of Main Air Support Operations Center, ASOC Fighter Duty Officer, 604th Air Support Operations Squadron, Camp Red Cloud, South Korea.
6. January 2004-March 2004, Student, F-15E TX-2, Class 04-BTE2, 333rd Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
7. March 2004-July 2005, F-15E Instructor Pilot, C-Flight Commander, Supervisor of Flying, 494th Fighter Squadron, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England
8. August 2005-October 2005, Student, F-16C/D TX-2, Class 05-ATC, 61st Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
(Current as of April 2006)
Now THATS what I call a woman! I'd fly with her anytime.
Good article, thanks for posting.
Maj. Malachowski has had an impressive career and it looks like she'll accomplish much more.
Have any Native Americans objected to the use of "Thunderbirds" and the logo?
A dream that took to the sky
Thunderbirds first woman pilot set to perform at Rockford AirFest
We got to see her fly with the Thunderbirds in Atlantic City over the summer. It was hot, but well worth it.
Excellent. Kudos to her.
We got to see her fly at Beale AFB a few months ago. BTW, another awesome group to watch fly are The Snowbirds (Canadian Air Force). We watched them perform a year ago at the Reno Air Races. What an awesome event for those of us that love incredible aircraft.
Calling all AF Freepers
Upcoming schedule for the USAF Thunderbirds -
1 Ft. Worth, Texas
7-8 Dover AFB, Del.
14 Arlington, Va.
15 Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.
21-22 Houston, Texas
28-29 Edwards AFB, Calif.
4-5 Lackland AFB, Texas
11-12 Nellis AFB, Nev.