Military Aviation

First Female Pilot for USAF F-16 Viper Demo Team

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

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, certified the new F-16 Viper Demonstration Team pilot and commander ahead of the 2019 season, Jan. 29.

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.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team (VDT) commander and pilot, performs preflight checks before performing an aerial demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustice, Va., Jan. 29, 2019.

“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.”

As told by Senior Airman Kathryn Reaves, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article F-16 VDT announces new pilot, 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.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin Dixon, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team (VDT) dedicated crew chief, left, and Staff Sgt. Ryan Davis, F-16 VDT aerospace propulsion craftsman, stand beside Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik, F-16 VDT commander and pilot, as she taxis her F-16CM Fighting Falcon on the flight line at Joint Base Langley-Eustice, Va., Jan. 28, 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.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET  YOURS.  F-16CM Fighting Falcon 20th Fighter Wing, 77th Fighter Squadron “Gamblers”, SW/94-0044 – Shaw AFB, SC

Photo credit: Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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