The U.S. Air Force announced its lineup of pilots for the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, and for the first time a woman will be flying solo.
Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik is the first female single-ship pilot who will fly with the team in airshows across the country, the Air Force said in a news release.
Kotnik, originally assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, has a military background that includes eight years of service and more than 1,000 flying hours, according to the news release.
She also completed extensive training that included “four certifications, off-station training flights and more than 30 practice missions,” per the Air Force news release.
A 2011 graduate of the Air Force Academy, Kotnik has experience in aerial performances, participating in a flyover of the U.S. Capitol during the January 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. President, WMTV reported.
The Air Force captain said she has a specific goal she hopes to achieve in her new role as a demonstration pilot.
“What I’m looking forward to most is the potential to have an influence on younger generations,” Kotnik said in the news release. “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.”
According to the Air Force, airshow spectators can get “a firsthand look at the world’s premiere multi-role fighter aircraft through precision aerial maneuvers,” which serves as a public relations tool for the military branch, the news release said.
“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,” Master Sgt. Chris Schneider, F-16 VDT superintendent, said in the news release. “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 Viper team is currently in preseason training to ensure safe performances at 20 scheduled performances.
▪ March 30 -31 – Key West, FL
▪ May 4-5 – Chino CA
▪ May 11-12 – Lake Charles, LA
▪ May 25-26 – Latrobe, PA
▪ June 1-2 – Tinker AFB, OK
▪ June 8-9 – Smyrna, TN
▪ June 15-16 – Ocean City MD
▪ July 4 – Tacoma, WA
▪ July 6-7 – Moose Jaw RCAF, SK, Canada
▪ July 23-28 – Oshkosh, WI
▪ July 27-28 – Milwaukee WI (Heritage only)
▪ Aug. 3-4 – Ypsilanti, MI
▪ Sept. 14-15 – Owensboro, KY
▪ Sept. 28-29 — MCAS Miramar, CA
▪ Oct. 5-6 — Sacramento, CA
▪ Oct. 12-13 — Santa Maria, CA
▪ Oct. 12-13 – Apple Valley, CA (Heritage only)
▪ Oct. 19-20 – Fort Worth, TX
▪ Nov 2-3 – Stuart, FL
▪ Nov 9-10 – NAS Pensacola, FL
All dates and events subject to change
Source: U.S. Air Force