First Female F-16 Viper Demonstration Pilot Commander Fired After 2 Weeks

first published on February 13, 2019 by

Just two weeks after becoming the first female to command the Air Combat Command (ACC) F-16 Viper demonstration team, Capt. Zoe Kotnik was relieved of duty due to a loss of confidence in her ability to lead.


The 20th Fighter Wing, which the ACC falls under, refused to release the details of Kotnik’s infractions leading to her removal, citing privacy concerns. A spokesman for the unit said that Kotnik will remain with the unit in a non-supervisory role.

“We have thousands of airmen across our Air Force serving our country, and not one of them is perfect,” said Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander. “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.”

Kotnik is an experienced fighter pilot with over 1,000 flight hours across the globe.