January 29, 2019 (by SrA Kathryn Reaves) - Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, certified the new F-16 Viper Demonstration Team pilot and commander ahead of the 2019 season, January, 29.
Capt. Zoe "SiS" Kotnik, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team (VDT) commander and pilot, smiles after a certification flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis on January 29, 2019. Kotnik performed more than 30 practice missions before the certification. [USAF photo by SrA Kathryn R.C. Reaves]
Capt. Zoe "SiS" Kotnik is the Air Force's first female single-ship aerial demonstration pilot and has over 1,000 flying hours in her eight years of military service.
"What I'm looking forward to most is the potential to have an influence on younger generations," said Kotnik. "I know firsthand how impactful airshows 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. I hope to be a source of inspiration and motivation they can draw from to apply in their own lives."
The new commander, originally assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, solidified her leadership of the team following extensive training including four certifications, off-station training flights and more than 30 practice missions.
This preseason training's goal is to ensure a safe year as the team performs at approximately 20 locations across the world in 2019.
"These shows allow us to demonstrate the capabilities of the F-16 to a world-wide audience while highlighting the work of the Airmen who keep the Viper flying," said Master Sgt. Chris Schneider, F-16 VDT superintendent. "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 working together to make it happen."
The F-16 VDT gives individuals a firsthand look at the world's premiere multi-role fighter aircraft through precision aerial maneuvers while working toward their mission of inspiring the next generation of Airmen while helping the public identify with the military.