Photo courtesy of US Air Force

First female Viper demo team pilot relieved of command — after two weeks

February 12, 2019 - 1:40 pm

The first female pilot to lead the F-16 Viper demonstration team, Capt. Zoe Kotnik, was relieved of command on Monday according to Air Force Times

Photo courtesy of US Air Force

“Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, relieved Capt. Zoe Kotnik from command Feb. 11 due to a loss of confidence in her ability to lead and command the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper demonstration team,” Col. Allen Herritage, director of public affairs at Air Combat Command, said in a statement. “The Viper demonstration team is working to minimize impacts on scheduled performances and looks forward to inspiring crowds around the country during the upcoming season as soon as a new commander is selected.”

During her eight years in the military, Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik logged over 1,000 flying hours. Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, made the announcement of her leadership on Jan. 29 following an extensive training cycle that included four certifications, off-station training flights, and more than 30 practice missions.

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“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,” Kotnik said. “I hope to be a source of inspiration and motivation they can draw from to apply in their own lives.”

Neither Herritage nor Kotnik could be reached for further comment. 

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