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

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demo Team 2019 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team - AirshowStuff

Here is the 2019 airshow schedule for the US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team! 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 F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team Appearance Schedule

March 30-31: Southernmost Air Spectacular – NAS Key West, FL

April 2-5: Sun ‘n Fun – Lakeland, FL
April 6: Shaw AFB Wing Event – Shaw AFB, SC **Non-public Event

May 4-5: Planes of Fame Air Show – Chino, CA
May 11-12: Chennault International Airshow – Lake Charles, LA
May 25-26: Westmoreland County Airshow – Latrobe, PA

June 1-2: Star Spangled Salute, Tinker AFB, OK
June 8-9: Great Tennessee Airshow, Smyrna, TN
June 15-16: Ocean City Air Show, Ocean City, MD

July 4: Tacoma Freedom Fair – Tacoma, WA
July 6-7: CFB Moose Jaw – Moose Jaw, SK
July 22-28: EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (HF Only) – Oshkosh, WI
July 27-28: Milwaukee Air and Water Show – Milwaukee, WI

August 3-4: Thunder Over Michigan – Ypsilanti, MI

September 14-15: Owensboro Air Show – Owensboro, KY
September 28-29: MCAS Miramar – San Diego, CA

October 5-6: California Capital Airshow – Sacramento, CA
October 12: Apple Valley Airshow – Apple Valley, CA (HF Only)
October 12-13: Central Coast AirFest – Santa Maria, CA
October 19-20: Bell Helicopter Fort Worth/Alliance Airshow – Fort Worth, TX

November 2-3: Stuart Air Show – Stuart, FL
November 9-10: NAS Pensacola Airshow – Pensacola, FL

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demo Team 2018 Airshow Schedule Released

posted in: Military, Schedules | 0

USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team

Here is the 2018 airshow schedule for the US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team! 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 F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team

February 11: WBCA Stars and Stripes Airshow -Laredo, TX
Feb 28-March 4: Heritage Flight Conference

April 7-9: Space Coast Warbird AirShow 2018 – Titusville, FL
April 12-15: Sun ‘n Fun – Lakeland, FL
April 21-22: Vero Beach Airshow – Vero Beach, FL
April 28: 2018 Air & Space Expo – Charleston, SC (HF Only)
April 28-29: Wings Over Myrtle Beach – Myrtle Beach, SC

May 5-6: Holloman AFB Open House & Air Show – Holloman AFB, NM
May 12-13: Dyess Big Country Airfest – Dyess AFB, TX
May 19-20: Hangar 24 Airfest – Redlands, CA
May 26-27: Miami Beach Air and Sea Show – Miami, FL

June 16-17: Chippewa Valley Airshow – Eau Claire, WI
June 30-July 1: Evansville ShrinersFest Airshow – Evansville, IN

July 21-22: Biloxi Gulf Coast Airshow – Biloxi, MS
July 24-29: EAA Airventure Oshkosh – Oshkosh, WI (HF Only)

August 25-26: Sound of Speed Airshow – St. Joseph, MO

September 1-3: Cleveland National Airshow – Cleveland, OH
September 7-9: Airshow London – London, ON
September 14-17: National Championship Air Races – Reno, NV

October 13-14: Spirit of St. Louis Airshow – Chesterfield, MO
October 20-21: Wings Over Houston Airshow – Houston, TX
October 27-28: NAS Jacksonville Airshow – NAS Jacksonville, FL

November 3-4: Stuart Air Show – Stuart, FL

Nellis Air Force Base Concludes 17-2 Red Flag Aerial Combat Training Exercise

posted in: Military | 2

This past week, the year’s second Red Flag Exercise, known as Red Flag 17-2, came to a close after two intense weeks of training consisting of air to air, air to ground, aerial refueling, and overwatch missions. Missions were flown during the afternoons and evenings, resulting in two mass launches and two mass recoveries of aircraft each day, five days a week.

Red Flag happens four times a year, hosting the world’s elite fighter squadrons from the US Air Force, Navy, Marines, Air National Guard, NATO, and other allied nations. These groups gather to take part in ultra-realistic simulated aerial war games, which all take place at the Nevada Test and Training Range.

One participating aircraft type that really stood out from the crowd was the EA-6B Prowler operated by the US Marine Corps. This will be marked as the last Red Flag participation from any EA-6B squadron, as VMAQ-4 is set to deactivate. The squadron will be retiring its aging Prowler fleet this June, marking the end of an era for a distinguished airframe.

Colorado Air National Guard F-16 passing the moon during Red Flag 17-2EA-6B Prowler returns during Red Flag 17-2

The amount of time and effort that goes into creating these highly realistic combat environments is unprecedented. Even when the jets are not flying, the maintainers are hard at work on the line keeping the jets ready for the next sortie. While the maintainers and pilots do their tasks, the unsung warriors are the dozens of Red Flag mission organizers that help thoroughly brief and debrief hundreds of pilots from the 15 visiting fighter and support squadrons:

Royal Netherlands Air Force

  • F-16 Fighting Falcon

Spanje (Spanish Air Force)

  • ALA 111 – Eurofighter EF-2000
  • ALA 312 – KC-130H Hercules

Air National Guard

  • 100th FS – F-16 Fighting Falcon
  • 120th FS – F-16C Fighting Falcon

US Army

  • 149th AVN – UH-60 Blackhawk

US Air Force – Europe

  • 493d FS – F-15C/D Eagle

US Air Force

  • 16th ACCS – E-8C Joint STARS
  • 55th FS – F-16CJ Fighting Falcon
  • 79th RQS – HC-130 Hercules/HH-60 Blackhawk
  • 960th AACS – E-3 Sentry
  • 91st ARS – KC-135 Stratotanker

US Navy

  • HSC-21 – MH-60S Seahawk
  • VAW-117 – E-2C Hawkeye

US Marine Corps

  • VMAQ-4 – EA-6B Prowler

HC-130 Red Flag 17-2

Beyond the squadrons’ jet fuel-driven training, exercises also draw crowds of a different breed. Hundreds of aviation photographers travel to Nellis each Red Flag for the opportunity to photograph aircraft from squadrons they may never have the chance to see again. Squadrons such as the Spanish, Dutch, and the Lakenheath-based USAFE F-15C/Ds were on every photographer’s must-shoot list. Nothing provides a better opportunity for good photos than the almost always clear Vegas skies mixed with perfect late afternoon light.

Though 17-2 has come to a close, photographers should mark their calendars as Nellis AFB will be hosting two more Red Flag exercises during the 2017 calendar year; the first taking place mid-July (17-3), and the second in mid-August (17-4).

– Anthony Cornelius

Spanish Eurofighter at Red Flag 17-2

F-16C From the 140th wing returning to Nellis AFBColorado Air National Guard F-16s leading a pair of Shaw AFB F-16s

Red Flag 17-2 Night Launch Operations

2017 USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demo Team Schedule Released

posted in: Airshows, Military, Schedules | 0

US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team

The US Air Force has released the 2017 airshow schedule for the F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team, popularly known as Viper East. Heritage Flight info will be added at a later date.

Will you see the Viper in 2017? Let us know! Post on our Facebook page and in our forums, and make sure you share pictures after the show!

Also check out the rest of the 2017 airshow appearance schedules!

2017 Appearance Schedule – USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team

Feb 9-12 – Heritage Flight Conference – Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

April 1-2 – NAS Corpus Christi, TX
April 7-9 – Lakeland, FL – Sun ‘n Fun
April 22-29 – NASJRB New Orleans, LA (HF with P-51)
April 29-30 – MCAS Beaufort, SC

May 6-7 – Fort Lauderdale, FL (HF with P-51)
May 13-14 – Millington, TN
May 20-21 – North Kingstown, RI
May 27-28 – Miami, FL

June 10-11 – Whiteman AFB, MO
June 17-18 – Gaylord, MI
June 24-25 – Latrobe, PA (HF with P-51)

July 1-2: New Windsor, NY (HF with F-35 and P-51)
July 10-16 – Rio Negro, Columbia

August 11-13 – Abbotsford, BC (HF with F-35 and P-51)
August 26-27 – Brunswick, ME (HF with P-51)

September 9-10 – New Windsor, NY (Date changed to July)
September 15-17 – NAS Oceana, VA (HF with P-51)
September 23-24 – Owensboro, KY
September 30-October 1 – Huntington Beach, CA (HF with F-35 and two P-51s)

October 7-8 – San Francisco, CA (HF with A-10 and two P-51s)
October 14-15 – Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, GA (HF with P-51)
October 28-29 – Fort Worth, TX (HF with P-47)

November 3-5 – Stuart, FL (HF with ?)