Col. Nicole Malachowski, First Female Thunderbird Pilot, to Keynote 2023 NBAA-BACE

Contact: Dan Hubbard, 202-431-5970,

Washington, DC, Oct. 3, 2023 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today announced that aviation trailblazer Col. Nicole Malachowski (USAF, retired) will take part in the Day 2 Keynote at the 2023 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), taking place Oct. 17-19 in Las Vegas, NV.

From the moment she first saw military jets fly overhead when she was 5 years old, Malachowski was determined to pilot them one day. Undeterred by the fact that women were prohibited at that time from becoming fighter pilots, she joined the Civil Air Patrol in middle school. After soloing at age 16 and participating in Air Force Junior ROTC in high school, Malachowski was accepted as a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy. By the time she graduated from undergraduate pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, Malachowski was among the first women chosen to fly modern fighter aircraft.

“Col. Malachowski is an inspiration to us all,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “In her career, she’s opened doors not just for herself, but for all women in the military and beyond. We’re honored to have her join us at NBAA-BACE.”

A combat veteran who served as an F-15E flight commander, evaluator, instructor pilot and flight lead, Malachowski has more than 2,300 hours in six different Air Force aircraft. She has also served as a White House Fellow, and was the executive director of a White House initiative for which she advised former First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden on topics relating to service members, veterans and military families.

Perhaps her greatest achievement was her selection as the first female Thunderbird pilot, and the first woman to fly on a Department of Defense military jet demonstration team.

“Thunderbird pilots are often called the best in the world, and Col. Malachowski showcased the elite skill, precision and professionalism the Air Force demanded of these pilots,” added Bolen. “I know that NBAA-BACE attendees will be excited to hear the story of her amazing career journey, which offers lessons in leadership for us all.”

Now retired from the Air Force, Malachowski works to ensure that the important work needed to encourage women to consider aviation careers is an ongoing, long-term strategic priority for the military and the aviation industry.

The 2023 NBAA-BACE Day 2 Keynote will begin at 9:30 a.m. PDT on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Learn more about the world’s largest business aviation event – NBAA-BACE – at

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 10,000 company and professional members and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at

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