Fly, girl! Woman to lead Air Force's F-16 Viper Demo Team for first-time

Julia LeDoux
January 30, 2019 - 1:38 pm

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn RC Reaves


Fly, girl!

The F-16 Viper Demonstration Team pilot and commander have been certified ahead of this year’s air show season.

For the first time this year, a woman will be flying solo in the cockpit.

Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik will lead the VDT and is Air Force’s first female single-ship aerial demonstration pilot. During her eight years in the military, Kotnik has logged over 1,000 flying hours, according to an Air Force release

Kotnik and the team she now commands will perform at air shows at 20 locations around the world this year.

“I know first hand how impactful air shows can be and what a difference it makes to young people to see just one example of what they too can do and who they can become,” she said. “I hope to be a source of inspiration and motivation they can draw from to apply in their own lives.”

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn RC Reaves

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, made the announcement Jan. 29 following an extensive training cycle that included four certifications, off-station training flights and more than 30 practice missions.

Master Sgt. Chris Schneider, F-16 VDT superintendent, said the shows give spectators a first-hand look at what the aircraft can do while highlighting the work of the Airmen who keep them flying.

“It’s not every day people get the chance to hear the sound of freedom roaring over their heads or watch a team of maintainers making that happen,” said Schneider.


U.S. Air Force

Kotnik was originally assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. 

For more information on the team’s schedule, visit

Want to get more connected to the great stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter.