Captain Zoe Kotnik Dismissed from F-16 Viper Demo Team

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Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, released a statement on Tuesday announcing the removal of Captain Zoe Kotnik as F-16 Viper Demo Team Pilot. Major John “Rain” Waters will resume command of the team. Here’s the full statement:

“I removed Capt. Kotnik from her position as the commander of the Viper Demo team yesterday, because I lost confidence in her ability to lead the team.

I know that loss of confidence is a common response from the Air Force, whenever someone is removed from a command position, and I think it’s important to understand why we take this approach.

We have thousands of Airmen across our Air Force serving our country, and not one of them is perfect. As good people, like Capt. 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.  They’ll be better for the experience, and in turn, we’ll be better as an Air Force.

In these types of situations, I never forget that we’re dealing with real human beings, that I care deeply about, and that we are charged to take care of.  This will be a difficult time for Capt. Kotnik, but she’s surrounded by wingmen that will help her every step of the way.

It was exciting to have the first female demo team pilot here at Shaw, but I’m also just as excited about the many other females that are serving with great distinction across our Air Force.  I’m proud to serve with them, and I’m inspired by them.  Even as I speak, another female pilot from the 20th Fighter Wing is flying combat missions in the Middle East.

Maj. Waters, last season’s Viper Demo pilot has resumed command, so the team is in great hands, and the show will go on.  We’re looking forward to another amazing season with this team.”

Stay tuned to our website and social media for the latest updates. 

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Airshow NewsF-16, Viper, 2019Comment