Meet the wing commander, spouse: Q&A with Col. David Skalicky, Kristene Skalicky

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Leandra Garcia
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

Meet Col. David Skalicky, 33rd Fighter Wing commander, and his wife Kristene Skalicky.  

The Skalicky family joined the Nomads in June of 2023 when Col. Skalicky took command of the 33rd FW. They have been married for 15 years and have two children, Drew, eight, and Piper, five. 

Col. Skalicky is a combat-experienced Command Pilot with over 2,800 hours in the F-35A, F-22A, F-15C/D, T-38, and T-37. He’s served for over 24 years and has been stationed at 10 bases throughout his career. 

Mrs. Skalicky is a Florida native, born on Eglin Air Force Base. She is no stranger to military life; her father served in the Air Force as a Crew Chief and MH-53 Flight Engineer.  

Public Affairs interviewed the Skalicky's, so you can get to know them. 

Why did you join the military?  

Col. Skalicky: I joined because I always knew I wanted to fly airplanes. Then when I was going through high school, I needed a way to pay for college and the military offered me a way to do it.  Nobody in my family was really in the military. My grandpa was drafted in WWII, but that was my only military connection in the family. My desire to fly and the Air Force's core values spoke to me. I went into the ROTC program, got a scholarship and it paid for college. That opened the door for me to pursue my dream of flying. 

What was your military background?  

Mrs. Skalicky: I am a daughter of a crew chief and I was born right here on Eglin AFB [Col. Skalicky: I think they’ve expanded the hospital since then].  We moved when I was very little and I’ve lived in Turkey for a few years, New Mexico, and then finally my Dad was stationed at Hurlburt Field. He worked in special ops and was gone quite a bit. There were times when we didn’t know when he was coming home and that meant even if we had stuff going on, we'd stop everything because you might have only a few days to see your dad. He finished his last 10 years at Hurlburt.  

It's so amazing to be back here, and in some ways, I came full circle. Plus, I love watching him fly again!   

Why do you stay?  

Col. Skalicky: I stay because of the airmen and the team I get to be a part of. Technology and teamwork are things I've come across a lot in my career. Our Air Force has technology, aircraft and weapons like no other Air Force in the world. But our biggest advantage is the teamwork aspect. Once you put on that uniform it doesn't matter where you came from, you get to identify as an Airman and become a part of a team. That team can do things beyond what any other military has been able to do throughout history. That’s why I stay.  

Mrs. Skalicky: I love seeing him as a commander. As I have said, I am the daughter of a crew chief and it’s special knowing that my dad used to work on aircraft. He took so much pride in taking care of the plane that protected the pilot. Now I'm married to the pilot. Dave is someone who, while flying, sees any concerns and problems going on and takes it all back to the drawing board to improve things. He looks out for people. It is so great for the kids and I to see him as the protector. That's why we stay.  

What was your dream airframe?  

Col. Skalicky: Growing up, my dream airframe was always the F-15C. So, here's the dream and here's how it happened. On my first day of college, I walked into the ROTC office and said ‘I'm gonna go fly F-15s out of Alaska'. That first day, I walked in and said that. Of course, they chuckled and pushed me aside which I don't blame them for doing. Seven years of hard work later between college, pilot training and all the other training, my first assignment was F-15s in Alaska! It took a long time, but if you have a worthy goal worth pursuing, you can do it.  

What was your favorite airframe?  

Col. Skalicky: I love all the airframes I've flown for different reasons. The F-15 was just a fantastic pilot's aircraft. It hugged you and spoke to you. It was a dream to fly. It was my first and you’ll always have love for your first airplane. It’s like your first car, great memories, but my first car was a 1983 S-10 pickup and, you know, I don't drive an ‘83 S-10 pickup anymore. The F-22 can maneuver around the sky like no other aircraft can. What made it amazing was the leap in performance, and nothing right now matches what you can do aerodynamically in that aircraft. That's what I love about the F-22. It was much more mechanical in how it flew than the F-15 but you could do amazing things that defied logic in it. What I love about the F-35 is it's the next generation. It improved upon all the things that the F-22 had going for it. It's more robust. The sensors are better, the avionics are better, and it’s more capable and has a wider variety of weapons it can deliver. I like that you can do more with it than with the F-22 from a mission perspective. Each one is different. I really can’t choose just one.  

How do you deal with work-life balance?  

Col. Skalicky: I think the big thing with work-life balance is people approach it incorrectly. People have this image that work-life balance means everything is just in perfect proportion, every day, and it never changes; but that's unrealistic. Balance happens in the aggregate over the months and years of your career. There are times when you're sprinting and there are times when you need to power down. So how do I do it? For me, there are some things that I try to hit every day. I get my workout in because fitness is important to me, and that's part of how I decompress. I make sure to make time for Kristene and the kids. When I was on a staff at the Pentagon, I coached two different baseball teams, a T-ball team, lacrosse and I was a Cub Scout den leader. There were times when it was tough and times when it wasn't, but it was all worth doing.  

Mrs. Skalicky: A big part of our work-life balance is he makes us a part of work. We have lunch together during the week; Plus, we try to take the kids around and show them different parts of the Wing for example, letting the kids see the maintenance load competitions, jets take off, and other aspects of the wing. Even though we separate work and home, this is all of our lives and integration helps with balance. 

Col. Skalicky: When I was the Operations Group Commander in Alaska, every Wednesday Kristene, the kids and I would read a book, have lunch and hang out. It was on my calendar. Then we would all go back to the rest of our day, it was great. 

What are your goals for the wing:  

Col Skalicky: My goal is to stay true to our mission, training the world's finest, pilots, air battle managers, intel professionals, and maintainers. We need to continue training the finest possible airmen to meet the challenges in the second half of this decade. We’re going into a time as a nation where we could be called on to put our highest-end training into action, and we need to be ready. I want to promote a culture of leaning forward, innovation, and preparing for the future. 'Sweat in peacetime saves blood in war’. So, keep pushing.  Sweat is not a bad thing right now. We’ll save a lot of blood later.  

Mrs. Skalicky: My goals are to reach out to as many people as I can. I want to meet people and learn about the base and this community. I want to join the school board, the spouses club, and find volunteer opportunities. 

What would you like the Nomads to know? 

Col Skalicky: We are so excited to be joining the Nomad family. We’re the new ones on the team, and we are all in. We have been doing this for 15 years as a married couple through all the commands and deployments. Kristene is a huge part of the team, and anyone is welcome to reach out to her if they feel more comfortable talking to her than to me. We’re here to help. 

BOTH: We are here for all of you and are excited to take this team to the next level. Fire from the clouds!