First Female F-16 Demo Team Commander Suddenly Removed From Team

posted in: Military | 3

Capt Zoe Kotnik Climbs into F-16

Less than two weeks after being confirmed as the 2019 USAF F-16 demonstration pilot and leader of the demo team – the first female commander of any single ship ACC demo team – Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik has been removed from the position.

Col. Derek O’Malley, the commander of the 20th Fighter Wing which is located at Shaw AFB in Sumter, SC, removed Kotnik after losing confidence in her ability to lead. His statement was posted the on the team’s Facebook page midday Tuesday, shocking many in the airshow community.

Kotnik’s appointment to the Viper Demo Team was quite popular, with many applauding the choice of a female to lead the team. She was labeled a “real-life Captain Marvel” in reference to the upcoming movie that stars a female Air Force fighter pilot who becomes a superhero. The marketing practically wrote itself and the fanfare of her appointment now shines a huge spotlight on this sudden change.

“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,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley’s statement reads extremely similarly to the one issued in 2017 when the leader of the USAF Thunderbirds was also relieved of his position. The key phrase in both cases was “loss of confidence” in the ability to lead.

USAF F-16 Viper Demonstration Team - AirshowStuff

As commander of the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, Kotnik was responsible for leading the 17-member unit whose mission is to inspire the next generation of pilots and maintainers, and to represent the Air Combat Command, United States Air Force, Department of Defense, and the United States of America at more than 20 air shows annually. She also was responsible for overseeing maintenance and conducting the demonstration in the air.

The outgoing demonstration pilot, Maj. John “Rain” Waters, will now stay on to lead the team and fly the demonstrations for at least the 2019 season, which will be his third.

Capt. Kotnik graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2011 and earned her wings in 2013. She has over 1,000 hours in military aircraft.

The team’s first performance in 2019 is scheduled for March 30-31st at Naval Air Station Key West in Florida. At this time, it’s not known how this decision could impact the season.

Here is the full statement from 20th Fighter Wing commander Col. Derek O’Malley:

Viper Demo Team friends and family, please see a message below from the 20th Fighter Wing commander.

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.

Col. Derek O’Malley
Commander, 20th Fighter Wing

Thunderbirds Add Traverse City To 2019 Airshow Schedule

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 2

US Air Force Thunderbirds - AirshowStuff

The US Air Force Thunderbirds have added the National Cherry Festival Airshow in Traverse City, MI to their 2019 performance schedule!

The June 29-30 weekend was previously marked as open after the cancellation of the Rhode Island Airshow in November. Because the following weekend is booked out as a mid-season break before the team travels to Colombia, it was not apparent whether they would fill the weekend or opt for a longer break.

Traverse City will also be hosting the F-22 Raptor demonstration team and an US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier demonstration.

Easily browse nearby airshows and performer schedules using our Airshow and Aviation Event Calendar!

USAF Thunderbirds 2020 Preliminary Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 3

US Air Force Thunderbirds - AirshowStuff

Here is the preliminary 2020 airshow schedule for the US Air Force Thunderbirds! This schedule has been released on a preliminary basis only, and will likely see notable changes. Please make sure to check back with us in December of 2019 when an updated 2020 schedule is released!

Preliminary US Air Force Thunderbirds 2020 Appearance Schedule

March 7-8: Fiesta of Flight – Laughlin AFB, TX
March 14-15: OFF
March 21-22: Luke Days Air and Space Expo – Luke AFB, AZ
March 28-29: March Field Air and Space Expo: Thunder Over the Empire – March AFB, CA

April 4-5: Sun-N-Fun Fly-In and Expo – Lakeland, FL
April 11-12: OFF
April 18-19: Maxwell AFB, AL
April 25-26: Wings Over Columbus – Columbus AFB , MS

May 2-3: Ford Lauderdale Air Show – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 9-10: Beale AFB, CA
May 16-17: Shaw Air and Space Expo – Shaw AFB, SC
May 23-24: Miami Beach Air & Sea Show – Miami Beach, FL
May 26: USAF Academy Graduation – Colorado Springs, CO
May 30-31: OFF

June 6-7: California International Airshow – Salinas, CA
June 13-14: Ocean City Airshow – Ocean City, MD
June 20-21: Thunder over the Valley – Youngstown ARB, OH
June 27-28: Warriors over Wasatch Air and Space Show – Hill AFB, UT

July 4-5: Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival – Battle Creek, MI
July 11-12: Arctic Thunder Open House – JB Elmendorf, AK
July 18-19: Duluth Air and Aviation Expo – Duluth, MN
July 25-26: Ellsworth Air and Space Show – Ellsworth AFB, SD

August 1-2: Grand Fork AFB Air Show – Grand Forks AFB, ND
August 8-9: OFF
August 15-16: Chicago Air and Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 22-23: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Armed Forces Airshow – Avoca, PA
August 26: Thunder over the Boardwalk – Atlantic City, NJ
August 29-30: New York Air Show – New Windsor, NY

September 5-6: OFF
September 12-13: Airshow London – London, Ontario
September 19-20: The Great Pacific Airshow – Huntington Beach, CA
September 26-27: Kansas City Air Show – Gardner, KS

October 3-4:Aviation Roundup Airshow – Minden, NV
October 10-11: Aerospace Valley Air & Space Show – Edwards AFB, CA
October 17-18: Bell Fort Worth Alliance Air Show – Fort Worth, TX
October 24-25: Wings over North Georgia – Rome, GA
October 31-November 1: Orlando Sanford Air Show – Sanford, FL

November 7-8: NASJRB New Orleans Airshow – New Orleans, LA

Again, this schedule is for 2020. If you’re looking for 2018 airshow appearances, check out USAF Thunderbirds 2019 Airshow Schedule Released

USAF Thunderbirds 2019 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Jet Teams, Schedules | 14

US Air Force Thunderbirds - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for the US Air Force Thunderbirds! Will you see them in 2019? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Schedules often change during the year – make sure to check out our airshow calendar for an updated list of airshows and aviation events, plus this and other major schedules all listed in one place! You can also check our forums for discussion on the schedule and shows!

2019 US Air Force Thunderbirds Airshow Appearance Schedule

February 17: Daytona 500, Daytona Beach, FL (Flyover)

March 3: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV (Flyover)
March 14: Creech Appreciation Day, Indian Springs, NV
March 23-24: Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona – Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
March 30-31: Travis AFB Open House – Travis AFB, CA

April 6-7: Heart of Texas Air Show – Waco, TX
April 13-14: OPEN
April 27-28: Wings over Wayne Open House – Seymour Johnson AFB, NC

May 4-5: Keelser AFB, MS
May 11-12: JB Andrews Air Show – JB Andrews, MD
May 18: Kirtland AFB Air Show – Kirtland AFB, NM
May 25-26: Jones Beach Air Show – Jones Beach, NY
May 30: USAF Academy – Colorado Springs, CO

June 1-2: Defenders of Freedom Air Show – Offutt AFB, NE
June 8-9: Fort Wayne Air Show – Fort Wayne, IN
June 15-16: Minnesota Air Spectacular – Mankato, MN
June 22-23: Dayton Air Show – Dayton, OH
June 29-30: National Cherry Festival Airshow – Traverse City, MI

July 6-7: Mid-summer Break
July 13-14: Rionegro (Medellin), Colombia
July 20-21: Fargo Air Show – Fargo, ND
July 24: Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, WY
July 27-28: Milwaukee Air and Water Show – Milwaukee, WI

August 10-11: Abbotsford International Air Show – Abbotsford, BC
August 17-18: Sioux Falls Air Show – Sioux Falls, SD
August 21: Atlantic City Air Show – Atlantic City, NJ
August 24-25: Rochester International Airshow – Rochester, NY
August 31-September 2: Cleveland National Air Show – Cleveland, OH

September 7-8: Grissom Air Reserve Base Air Show – Grissom ARB, IN
September 14-15: National Championship Air Races – Reno, NV
September 21-22: Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show – NAS Oceana, VA
September 28-29: Robins AFB Air Show – Robins AFB, GA

October 5-6: Puerto Rico International Air Show – San Juan, PR
October 12-13: Atlanta Air Show – Hampton, GA
October 19-20: Wings Over Houston Air Show – Houston, TX
October 26-27: Sheppard AFB Air Show – Sheppard AFB, TX

November 2-3: Florida International Air Show – Punta Gorda, FL
November 15-17: Aviation Nation – Nellis AFB, NV

Want to look a little further ahead? We also have a copy of the preliminary 2020 US Air Force Thunderbirds schedule!

USAF Thunderbirds 2019 Preliminary Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Jet Teams, Schedules | 19

US Air Force Thunderbirds

Here is the preliminary 2019 airshow schedule for the US Air Force Thunderbirds! This schedule has been released on a preliminary basis only, and will likely see notable changes. Please make sure to check back with us in December of 2018 when an updated 2019 schedule is released!

Preliminary 2019 Appearance Schedule – US Air Force Thunderbirds

February 17: Daytona 500, Daytona Beach, FL (Flyover)

March 3: Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV (Flyover)
March 14: Creech Appreciation Day, Indian Springs, NV
March 23-24: Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona – Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
March 30-31: Gulf Coast Salute Air Show – Tyndall AFB, FL

April 6-7: Heart of Texas Air Show – Waco, TX
April 13-14: OPEN Salute to the Military Air Show – Biloxi, MS
April 27-28: Wings over Wayne Open House – Seymour Johnson AFB, NC

May 4-5: Keelser AFB, MS
May 11-12: JB Andrews Air Show – JB Andrews, MD
May 18: Kirtland AFB Air Show – Kirtland AFB, NM
May 25-26: Jones Beach Air Show – Jones Beach, NY
May 30: USAF Academy – Colorado Springs, CO

June 1-2: Defenders of Freedom Air Show – Offutt AFB, NE
June 8-9: Fort Wayne Air Show – Fort Wayne, IN
June 15-16: Minnesota Air Spectacular – Mankato, MN
June 22-23: Dayton Air Show – Dayton, OH
June 29-30: OPEN

July 6-7: Mid-summer Break
July 13-14: Rionegro (Medellin), Colombia
July 20-21: Fargo Air Show – Fargo, ND
July 24: Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, WY
July 27-28: Milwaukee Air and Water Show – Milwaukee, WI

August 10-11: Abbotsford International Air Show – Abbotsford, BC
August 17-18: Sioux Falls Air Show – Sioux Falls, SD
August 21: Atlantic City Air Show – Atlantic City, NJ
August 24-25: Rochester International Airshow – Rochester, NY
August 31-September 2: Cleveland National Air Show – Cleveland, OH

September 7-8: Grissom Air Reserve Base Air Show – Grissom ARB, IN
September 14-15: National Championship Air Races – Reno, NV
September 21-22: Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show – NAS Oceana, VA
September 28-29: Robins AFB Air Show – Robins AFB, GA

October 5-6: Puerto Rico International Air Show – San Juan, PR
October 12-13: Atlanta Air Show – Hampton, GA
October 19-20: Wings Over Houston Air Show – Houston, TX
October 26-27: Sheppard AFB Air Show – Sheppard AFB, TX

November 2-3: Florida International Air Show – Punta Gorda, FL
November 9-10: Aviation Nation – Nellis AFB, NV

Again, this schedule is for 2019. If you’re looking for 2018 airshow appearances, check out USAF Thunderbirds 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

USAF Thunderbirds 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Jet Teams, Schedules | 44

US Air Force Thunderbirds

Here is the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Air Force Thunderbirds! Will you see them in 2018? Let us know! Post in the AirshowStuff Forums or on the AirshowStuff Facebook page and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Schedules often change during the year – for the latest updates please be sure to check our forums!

2018 Appearance Schedule – US Air Force Thunderbirds

March 10-11: OPEN (Likely extra training)
March 17-18: OPEN (Likely extra training)
March 24-25: Melbourne Air & Space Show – Melbourne, FL

April 7-8: March Field Air & Space Expo – March ARB, CA (Performance canceled due to safety stand down)
April 14-15: Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In & Expo – Lakeland, FL (Performance canceled due to safety stand down)
April 21-22: Wings Over Columbus – Columbus AFB, MS (Performance canceled due to safety stand down)
April 28: Charleston Air Expo – JB Charleston, SC

May 5-6: Fort Lauderdale Air Show – Fort Lauderdale, FL
May 12-13: Laughlin AFB Open House – Laughlin AFB, TX
May 19-20: AirPower Over Hampton Roads – Langley AFB, VA
May 23: U.S. Air Force Academy Graduation – Colorado Springs, CO
May 26-27: Cannon AFB Air Show – Cannon AFB, NM

June 2-3: Gunfighter Skies Air Show – Mountain Home AFB, ID
June 9-10: Thunder Of Niagara Airshow – Niagara Falls, NY
June 16-17: OC Air Show – Ocean City, MD
June 23-24: The Utah Air Show – Hill AFB, UT
June 30-July 1: Arctic Thunder Air Show – Elmendorf AFB, AK

July 7-8: Duluth Air and Aviation Expo – Duluth, MN
July 14-15: The Great New England Air Show – Westover ARB, MA
July 21-22: Milwaukee Air & Water Show – Milwaukee, WI
July 25: Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, WY
July 28-29: Westmoreland County Air Show – Latrobe, PA

August 4-5: Minot AFB Air Show – Minot, ND
August 18-19: 60th Chicago Air & Water Show – Chicago, IL
August 22: Thunder Over the Boardwalk – Atlantic City, NJ
August 25-26: Thunder Over Michigan – Ypsilanti, MI

September 1-2: Canadian International Air Show – Toronto, ON
September 8-9: McConnell AFB Open House – McConnell AFB, KS
September 15-16: New York Air Show – New Windsor, NY
September 22-23: California Capital Air Show – Sacramento, CA
September 29-30: California International Air Show – Salinas, CA

October 6-7: Maryland Fleet Week & Air Show – Baltimore, MD
October 13-14: Fort Worth Alliance Air Show – Fort Worth, TX
October 20-21: Breitling Huntington Beach Air Show – Huntington Beach, CA
October 27-28: Thunder Over the Rock – Little Rock AFB, AR

November 3-4: Wings Over Homestead – Homestead ARB, FL
November 10-11: Aviation Nation – Nellis AFB, NV

Want to look a little further ahead? We also have a copy of the preliminary 2019 US Air Force Thunderbirds schedule!

USAF Thunderbird F-16 Involved In Mishap At 2017 Dayton Air Show

posted in: Jet Teams | 0

USAF Thunderbirds 7 and 8 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010

AirshowStuff has learned that an F-16 belonging to the USAF Thunderbirds has been involved in an incident at the Dayton Air Show in Dayton, OH.

According to eyewitnesses, the incident occurred after the F-16 landed and was taxiing. The plane went off the runway and is currently in the grass. Law enforcement in the Dayton area are confirming than a Thunderbird jet is “on its top.”

This picture, posted by Dayton Daily News shows emergency crews responding to the incident scene.

The pilot of the jet at the time was Thunderbird #8, Capt. Erik “Speedy” Gonsalves. Tech Sargent Kenneth Cordova was the backseater. The mission was on a familiarization flight for Tech Sargent Cordova.

Both occupants of the plane were transported to the hospital. Thunderbird #1 says that injuries are non-life threatening. Tech Sargent Cordova had no visible injuries and is doing “just fine.” Thunderbird #8 had lacerations and injuries to his leg but is in stable to good condition and doing well.

There was heavy rain and wind in the area at the time of the incident. We’ll post more details on our forums as they become available.

The plane took off around 10:30 am this morning. Weather at the time met the criteria for the flight. He flew an instrument procedure approach to recover to the base. Mishap happened after landing on Runway 6L.

An accident safety board will investigate and the results will be made public at a later time. The Thunderbirds will NOT perform on Saturday at the Dayton Airshow. Sunday’s performance is to be determined.


US Air Force Thunderbirds And Patrouille de France Fly Together Over Nevada

posted in: Jet Teams | 1

Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly Together

Two teams, together as one. That was the sight in the skies around Nellis AFB on today as the Patrouille de France arrived in Las Vegas for a visit with the United States Air Force Thunderbirds at their home base. The Thunderbirds sent up all six of their F-16 Fighting Falcons to escort the eight French Alpha Jets in, setting up a dramatic photo opportunity over the desert and mountains near Nellis.

Patrouille de France and Thunderbirds Fly Together

The pilots and maintainers will spend two days in Las Vegas before flying to Colorado Springs, CO and Peterson AFB to fly over the US Air Force Academy. From there, they will travel to Langley AFB to take part in a VIP event which AirshowStuff will bring you coverage of on Friday. Several other events on their North American tour follow before they return to France in May.

Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds

This isn’t the first time that the USAF Thunderbirds have spent time with the Patrouille de France. The teams performed together at the Melbourne Air & Space Show in early April, and again one week later at Maxwell AFB in Alabama.

The Patrouille’s visit to Nellis AFB comes a short time after they had a similar joint formation flight with the Blue Angels while visiting them in Pensacola.

All photos courtesy of the Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds

Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly TogetherPatrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly Together
Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly TogetherPatrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly Together
Patrouille de France and USAF Thunderbirds Fly TogetherPatrouille de France and Thunderbirds

BREAKING: US Air Force Approves Live-Fire Single-Ship Demonstrations Next Year

posted in: Military | 6

A-10 Thunderbolt II Warthog Strafe - Hawgsmoke 2016

The US Air Force has decided to add live munitions to its single-ship demonstrations starting next year. The change was announced in a surprise press release today, distributed by Air Combat Command. Not all show sites will be eligible for the new demonstrations; the list will be finalized and released at this year’s ICAS convention.

“We’ve been wanting to share this with the public since our conference back in February,” said ACC Commander General Mike Holmes. “We’ve been planning this since [Secretary of Defense James] “Mad Dog” Mattis was sworn in. All credit needs to go to him. He was the one that brought up the idea and paved the way for us to bring something truly exciting to the air show circuit next year.”

The aircraft that will incorporate the live rounds are the A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-22 Raptor, and F-16 Fighting Falcon (Viper). The F-35 will not be participating for unspecified reasons. The A-10 will be restored to full demonstration status as part of the move; it currently is only permitted to perform in Heritage Flights. Each aircraft will conduct two strafing passes using their cannons and one bombing run with several bombs during their performances.

F-22 Raptor Weapons Nellis AFB Red Flag 2015USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon

When asked about the new addition to show line-ups, Mattis said, “Our folks at home need to see we ain’t messin’ around. They need to harden up and get some. They need to hear the rumble of the guns and feel the motivation to drop and give our boys in blue fifty.”

The US Navy will not pursue live-fire passes until 2020, deciding instead to focus on the upcoming plan for the Blue Angels to transition to unmanned drones.

Until next year, here’s a dose of some BRRRRRRRrrrrrrt to tide you over!

USAF Thunderbirds Museum Reopens At Nellis AFB

posted in: Jet Teams, Museums | 1

USAF Thunderbirds Re-Open Museum

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds have re-opened their team museum at their home base of Nellis AFB. The museum helps tell the Thunderbird story, from its beginnings, to today.

Inside the museum, you’ll find artifacts and other memorabilia including documentation on the team’s formation. The picture below shows the designation and order to create the 3600th USAF Air Demonstration Unit at Luke AFB on May 23rd, 1953.

USAF Thunderbirds Re-Open Museum

Other displays include old Thunderbird team gear, patches, and photographs.

USAF Thunderbirds Re-Open Museum

USAF Thunderbirds Re-Open Museum

To access the museum, visitors must have a valid DOD ID card to get onto base property or be escorted by a DOD ID cardholder. The hours of operation are 8 am to 4 pm, and the location is 4445 Tyndall Avenue, Nellis AFB, NV 89191. For the most up-to-date information, call 702-652-6776.

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