Nicole Malachowski to be First Female Thunderbird

Thunderbirds to get first female pilot (Air Force Times)

Photo: Capt. Nicole Malachowski first female ThunderbirdThe 2006 Thunderbird team won̢۪t start training until this fall, but it already is headed for the history books. The Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron on Thursday announced the selection of Capt. Nicole Malachowski as the team̢۪s No. 3 right wing pilot, making the 1996 Air Force Academy graduate the first female demonstration pilot in the Thunderbirds̢۪ 52 year history.

In fact, she̢۪s the first female demonstration pilot on any U.S. military high performance jet team.

An F-15E pilot assigned to RAF Lakenheath̢۪s 494th Fighter Squadron, Malachowski just returned from a deployment in Southwest Asia and was on leave when she received the news.

“It’s a great privilege to be given the opportunity to be a part of the Thunderbird team, an organization that represents the finest traditions of our Air Force,” the Las Vegas native said in a press release.

A major milestone, to be sure.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    First they ruin NASCAR, now the Air Force ….

    No, seriously, congrats to Capt. Malachowski, and hopes that she and other women will be eligible to fly combat missions as well in the near future.

  2. Bithead says:

    They just did a show here in Rochester, last weekend. And a great one it was.

  3. Not too bad-looking, either.

  4. Bachbone says:

    The ’04 Dayton Air Show featured “Women in Aviation,” and many fine female aerobatic pilots performed. I hope the Thunderbirds, with Capt. Malachowski, will perform there soon.

  5. Randy says:

    Cogratulations!! Too bad she has to lower herself to the Electric Lawndart after flying real combat aircraft 😉

  6. TSgt (ret) Kristi Pierce says:

    Oh my God!
    18 years after my retirement, a woman makes it into the Thunderbirds! Congrats to Capt Malachowski for taking top honors, and having the guts to sustain the G-s. I’ll be looking forward to seeing her at the Rose Festival Airshow, July 2006. Keep your airspeed up, Captain!

  7. Lucas says:

    Congrats to Capt Malachowski! An assignment flying F-16’s will open her eyes to the combat capabilities of a real jet.(Yes, I know the other mudhen drivers like to boast about how they can carry everything and do any mission…typically getting schwacked early in the fight.) She will be a true asset to the T-birds–and she will LOVE flying single seat!! Too bad the media is gonna have a field day with her.

  8. RK Brown says:

    The F-15E is a long range, all weather fighter bomber. It’s only mission is combat. IE I think she is already a combat fighter pilot.

    I can hardly wait for someone to tell me that I fly like a woman…Patty Wagstaff, former World Female Acrobatic Champ.

    RKB, USAFA 68