F-16 Viper Demo Team Selects First Female Pilot for 2019

Air Force Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik was selected Tuesday as the F-16 Viper Demo Team's first female commander and pilot. (UUAF Sr Airman K. Reaves)

SHAW, AFB — The U.S. Air Force announced on Tuesday the selection of the first female to command and pilot the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team during the 2019 air show season.

Capt. Zoe Kotnik becomes the Air Force’s first female single-ship aerial demonstration pilot. She will also lead the demo team during their 20 show site visits between March and November.

“I am humbled and proud to officially announce my new role as the first female single seat tactical demonstration pilot and commander for the USAF F-16 Viper Demonstration Team,” Kotnik announced via social media. “We are ready to bring [all the speed], [all the Gs], and [all the freedom] to an airshow near you!”

Capt. “SiS” Kotnik, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team’s new commander and pilot, performs an aerial demonstration near Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., in December. (USAF)

Capt. Kotnik, who flies under the call sign “SiS”, was certified by Air Combat Command for the new position early Tuesday after completing six months of training and over 30 practice missions before the certification. “SiS” has flown over 1,000 hours piloting jet aircraft.

“What I’m looking forward to most is the potential to have an influence on younger generations,” Capt. Kotnik said. “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.”

Smiling under a Langley AFB sunrise, she added, “I hope to be a source of inspiration and motivation they can draw from to apply in their own lives.”

The F-16C jet is a single-engine fighter capable of tight turns and high speeds during each show. The F-16 will provide 27,000 pounds of thrust as “SiS” executes a nearly 25-minute demonstration.

The F-16 Viper Demo Team’s updated 2019 air show schedule. (Graphic: USAF)

“The F-16 Viper Demo Team 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,” Spokesperson Sr Airman Kathryn Reaves said.

(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)