Ever since he was a toddler, Kellen Skarka, Nebraska-Kearney ’09, has been fascinated by airplanes. “I always loved looking for airplanes and watching them in the sky,” Skarka shared.
Trips to air shows with his mom only deepened his love for aviation, and it wasn’t long before he wanted to do more than just watch planes — he wanted to fly them himself. At 16, Skarka began taking flying lessons. During college, he completed the requirements for his private pilot certificate and realized his lifelong dream of soaring above the clouds.
More than just a hobby, Skarka pursued his passion professionally, earning a degree in aviation systems management. In 2009, he launched his career coordinating various types of aviation operations as a commissioned officer in the Marine Corps and served the next seven years on active duty. Currently a major in the Marine Corps Reserve, he’s worked as an operations specialist for the Lincoln Airport Authority and is now the airport services manager for the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics.
Now, Skarka is looking forward to flying even higher and farther. He recently completed the first of several classes he’s taking at the National Security Space Institute with the goal of working with the newly established U.S. Space Force.
“There aren’t many Marines in that so, it would be nice to be one of the first handful to participate,” he said.
Adapted from an article in the Kearney Hub