Skip to Content

Captain Kotnik. Twitter

First female F-16 Viper team leader relieved of her command after 2 weeks

The first female pilot to head the American F-16 Viper demonstration team, was relieved of her command on Monday, only two weeks after she was appointed.

Published: February 14, 2019, 5:32 am

    Read more

    “Colonel Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, relieved Captain Zoe Kotnik from command February 11 due to a loss of confidence in her ability to lead and command the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper demonstration team,” Colonel Allen Herritage, director of public affairs at ACC, said in a statement published by Air Force Times.

    “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.”

    Herritage would not say why Kotnik was removed, but on a Facebook page, it appears that “mistakes” by Kotnik were the reason. She is the first pilot relieved from command this soon after assuming it, barely lasting two weeks, according to USAF sources.

    “As good people, like Captain Kotnik, make mistakes, I want them to have the opportunity to learn from them without being under public scrutiny and to continue to be a part of this great service,” said one of the servicemen, adding that “this will be a difficult time for Captain Kotnik”.

    The Viper team posted a tweet last month announcing her selection suggesting Kotnik was a superhero as in the Marvel Studios movie “Captain Marvel,” which depicts a superhero who starts out as a female Air Force fighter pilot. Her appointment was hyped on social media.

    In addition to being the first woman to head the Viper team, Kotnik is also the first female single-ship tactical demonstration pilot in the Air Force. These achievements point to a large error that must have been made on her part recently.

    The Viper team is a single-ship demonstration team that performs precision aerial maneuvers at air shows and other national events in the US such as the Super Bowl. They also fly in Air Force Heritage Flight formations.

    Kotnik’s first show as part of the Viper team’s 2019 schedule was to be at an air show at Naval Air Station Key West in Florida, on March 30 and 31, according to ACC’s website.

    Major John “Rain” Waters, who was last season’s Viper demo pilot, has resumed command of the team.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Americas

    Trump’s approval ratings have hit record lows

    WashingtonMany American voters surveyed in a new poll no longer approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president. Only 39 percent supported their leader, Trump’s lowest-ever approval score.

    Russian military specialists and cargo arrive in Caracas

    CaracasAt a high-level meeting in Rome last week, Moscow signalled that it will not tolerate American military intervention to bring about regime change in Venezuela.

    America’s air safety leadership takes a nosedive

    Last week, more than 30 countries and airlines from India to Italy, China, Indonesia and Australia grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 jets after a second fatal crash of the plane brought the death toll to 346 people.

    Google discriminates against male employees internal audit finds

    An internal salary analysis of the software giant Google has revealed wage discrimination against men.

    ‘How will attacking Venezuela improve America?’

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson on his show this week questioned the wisdom of American intervention in Venezuela.

    Transgenders outshine girls in track championships

    Black transgender sprinters finished first and second at a recent girls’ high school track championship in Connecticut.

    Senators from both US parties push for fresh sanctions against Russia

    WashingtonUS senators from both main parties are preparing additional sanctions against Russia, despite the Senate Intelligence Committee having uncovered no direct evidence of collusion between the President Trump's campaign and Russia.

    Russian meddling in US elections never happened

    WashingtonThe alleged Russian influence campaign - or meddling - in US elections never happened but was used to smear Russia and undermine the election of President Donald Trump.

    Italy’s Deputy FM urges EU to stop meddling in Venezuela

    RomeItalian Deputy Foreign Minister on Monday joined indignation expressed by Russia and China over efforts to meddle in crisis-hit Venezuela after the EU Parliament also voted, in a non-legislative resolution, to recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of the oil-rich nation.

    Covington: Innocent white teenagers framed by hostile media

    WashingtonAmerican mainstream media reported this week that a group of white school children harassed a group of Native American, black and minority adults when footage of the interaction shows that the exact opposite happened.

    Go to archive