Retired Fighter Pilot Nicole Malachowski Addresses Economic Club

Using setbacks as opportunities was a theme of Wednesday night’s presentation of the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan as retired U.S. fighter pilot Nicole Malachowski spoke in Benton Township. Malachowski served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years, becoming the first woman Thunderbird fighter pilot and rising to the rating of command pilot. She served as a White House Fellow and advised First Lady Michelle Obama on issues related to service members.

Malachowski told the crowd Tuesday night about her dream of becoming a fighter pilot, setbacks she encountered in training, and obstacles to becoming a Thunderbird. She said you can achieve big things if you consider failure to be merely the entry price of doing so. She’s followed a mantra that “nobody wants to lead a scripted life,” meaning you should not write yourself out of a story. Malachowski said she had to know when to ask for help and how to focus on her own goals to overcome adversity.

Malachowski’s Air Force career came to an end in 2016 when she was bedridden for nine months with a tick-borne illness that gives her problems to this day. Malachowski said that was another headwind that taught her you’ve got to accept what’s happened to you and move on. She did just that after her illness, becoming a speaker.

The next Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan presentation will be Ann Curry on November 2.