KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
When a family consists of more than one service member, life can be challenging.
For Capts. Maggie and Tom Nicklas, former 35th and 80th Fighter Squadron pilots, their short-tour at Kunsan AB meant they would finally live together.
According to Maggie, the two married F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots met four years ago, but spent more time apart than together over the years, due to offset training schedules.
“We have ended up at the same bases, but not on the same timeline,” Tom said. “I would always end up leaving a few months after she arrived. I extended here six months to align our timelines so we were able to spend a whole year together.”
The married couple was assigned to each of the 8th Fighter Wing’s only fighter squadrons – the 35th FS “Pantons” and the 80th FS “Juvats” – which share a fierce yet friendly rivalry on base.
“We always joke that there are family rivalries between sports teams and what not, but we have agreed that we may have the most serious one,” Maggie said. “Flying here has been great. It has challenged us and afforded us opportunities that we are incredibly grateful for.”
Despite the distance and differing timelines the military life brings, the Nicklas family has adjusted to the ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle and remained appreciative since day one of their Air Force careers.
The Air Force Academy graduates met at a Christmas party during pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, four years ago. Now they are fully-skilled aviators, soaring through the skies and getting the mission done as a dynamic fighter pilot duo.
“It has been an amazing experience being F-16 pilots,” Maggie said. “It’s been challenging but very rewarding throughout our very young career so far.”
While their time at Kunsan has come to a close, the Nicklas family will continue their Air Force journey at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
“We both absolutely love our jobs,” Maggie said. “It’s what both of us wanted to do and our number one pick. We feel incredibly lucky to be F-16 pilots, and being able to enjoy this career with someone you love is even more special.”