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First Female USAF F-16 Demo Team Commander Fired After Two Weeks

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First Female USAF F-16 Demo Team Commander Fired After Two Weeks

Old 12th Feb 2019, 18:37
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First Female USAF F-16 Demo Team Commander Fired After Two Weeks

Very unusual for a 'poster child' to be relieved of command in my observation.

From the Air Force Times:

First female Viper demo team pilot relieved of command after two weeks

By: Stephen Losey   16 minutes ago
Capt. Zoe Kotnik, the first female pilot to head the F-16 Viper demonstration team, was relieved of command Monday.

“Col. Derek O’Malley,
20th Fighter Wing commander, relieved Capt. Zoe Kotnik from command Feb. 11 due to a loss of confidence in her ability to lead and command the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper demonstration team,” Col. Allen Herritage, director of public affairs at ACC, said in a statement. “The Viper demonstration team is working to minimize impacts on scheduled performances and looks forward to inspiring crowds around the country during the upcoming season as soon as a new commander is selected.”

Herritage would not comment further on what led to Kotnik’s removal, citing privacy concerns.

Air Force Times asked the 20th if Kotnik wished to comment, but has not yet received a response.

Kotnik, an F-16C pilot whose call sign is “SiS,” was certified as the Viper team leader by ACC commander Gen. Mike Holmes on Jan. 29. She graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2011, earned her wings in 2013, and has more than 1,000 flying hours in military aircraft. She deployed to Kunsan Air Base in South Korea for a year, from February 2015 to February 2016. She also has flown air defense missions in support of Operation Noble Eagle.



Kotnik’s selection garnered a great deal of press and social media attention. The Viper team posted a tweet last month announcing her selection that nodded to the advertising campaign for the Marvel Studios movie “Captain Marvel,” which depicts a superhero who starts out as a female Air Force fighter pilot.

Kotnik’s first show as part of the Viper team’s 2019 schedule was to be at an air show at Naval Air Station Key West in Florida, on March 30 and 31, according to ACC’s website



Just a few days earlier she had superhero status in USAF media releases:

‘Higher, further, faster’: Air Force names first female fighter pilot to command F-16 Viper team
By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 4, 2019

The Air Force has named its first female commander of a single-aircraft demonstration team, as the service looks to leverage the anticipated popularity of an upcoming superhero movie featuring a female fighter pilot to spur recruitment. Capt. Zoe “SiS” Kotnik was named pilot and commander of the Air Combat Command’s F-16 Viper Demonstration Team last week after completing a series of certification flights. The team showcases the F-16V Viper, the latest variant of the Fighting Falcon, at dozens of airshows each year.

In announcing Kotnik’s selection on Twitter, the team posted a video and photos framed and lettered like a comic panel. “In that instant ... She knew she could fly her F-16 higher, further and faster than anyone else,” reads text that appears in the images.

The line is a clear nod to the “Captain Marvel” film, which premieres on March 8 and features Brie Larson in the role of the titular superhero, whose alter ego Carol Danvers is an F-16 pilot in the Air Force. Air Force pilots, including Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, the service’s first female fighter pilot, assisted in the production. A new trailer, aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday, shows Larson’s character on the flight line walking beside fellow pilot Maria Rambeau, played by Lashana Lynch.


“About to show these boys how we do it,” Lynch says. “You ready?” Larson’s reply, which is partly echoed throughout the 30-second spot: “Higher, further, faster, baby.” In another nod to the movie, the Air Force Recruiting Service included the hashtag #higherfurtherfaster in a post on Friday announcing that Leavitt, who heads the recruiting service, hosted dozens of female pilots for an event at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Kotnik was among them. “Every hero has an origin story,” said the post, which included a photo the women on a foggy tarmac in front of a formation of aircraft. “We asked over 80 female pilots to share theirs.”

Kotnik’s origin story started in Poynette, Wis., where she was born into a family of aviators. Her uncle was skydiver and airshow hall of fame pilot Charlie Hillard, who in 1972 became the first American to win the World Aerobatic Championships. Her mother was also a private pilot. But Kotnik’s path to becoming a fighter pilot really began when she saw a NASA T-38 Talon supersonic jet trainer pull up at an airshow, she told Live Airshow TV last fall in a video interview. The pilot shut down the engines, popped the canopy and pulled off the flight helmet, revealing a female fighter pilot.“It was at that moment that I realized, ‘Oh my god, that’s exactly what I can do,’” Kotnik said.



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Old 12th Feb 2019, 20:51
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A message from Col. O'Malley posted today about the firing.

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


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Old 12th Feb 2019, 21:07
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I feel sorry for her.

My first thought was: "1000 hours? That's not many hours at all for such a huge responsibility".
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Old 12th Feb 2019, 21:16
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It's a pretty rapid 'loss of confidence' too. Was there a flawed selection process?
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Old 12th Feb 2019, 21:44
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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.
Almost sounds like one of those 'she will get the help that she needs' proclamations when a civilian pilot is involved in an incident involving drugs or alcohol.
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 01:02
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Not the first junior officer (of either sex) pushed too far too fast.......

Nobody is going to come out of this looking very good.
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 02:17
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As usual, they create a monster pushing the big "Look - it's a Girl!", and the unfortunate fall hits the media even harder.
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 10:49
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That process was so fast it almost suggests a massive personality clash. It brings to mind an arrival interview I had once. It was a bollocking and entirely because he had taken a dislike if me.

I am happy to say he got kicked out and I survived.
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 11:59
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I should think the fault is less with the new Leader and far more with who made the decision to put her in the Lead Position.

I cannot wait to hear the full account of both decisions.


The nice lady's Resume


https://www.shaw.af.mil/About-Us/Bio...-zoe-m-kotnik/
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 12:47
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And the Commander:

https://www.shaw.af.mil/About-Us/Bio...rek-j-omalley/
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 17:03
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Overpromotion of women and pandering to the PR spin doctors. The rot set in with Wimmins Lib and it will only get worse for the West.

We are doing the enemy’s job for them.
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 17:10
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DUI is the scuttlebutt
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 17:18
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Originally Posted by Training Risky View Post
Rubbish
The 1950s 'phoned. Apparently they'd like their sexist back.

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Old 13th Feb 2019, 19:30
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Female (USAF) fighter pilot makes another historic "First"

From the pages of the Air Force Times

https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/y...aptain-marvel/
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 19:38
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By COREY DICKSTEIN STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 12, 2019
WASHINGTON – Air Force Capt. Zoe Kotnik, the first female F-16 pilot to lead the service’s Viper demonstration team, was relieved of command Monday, just two weeks after taking the team’s reins, officials said Tuesday.

Col. Derek O’Malley, the commander of the 20th Fighter Wing, removed Kotnik from her position after losing confidence in her ability to lead and command the demonstration team, which showcases the newest model of F-16V fighter jets at airshows throughout the country, according to an Air Combat Command statement.

O’Malley attempted to explain his decision in a social media post on the Shaw Air Force Base’s Facebook page.

“We have thousands of airmen across our Air Force serving our country, and not one of them is perfect,” he wrote. “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.”

O’Malley acknowledged Kotnik’s removal would be tough on her, but he said she was “surrounded by wingmen [who] will help her every step of the way.”
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Old 13th Feb 2019, 22:54
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Genuine question from a civilian... without of course knowing if she was promoted too far too fast.
If a manifestly incompetent commander is appointed to a unit like this - how does it work in terms of military culture and the on the ground reality of command and control?
Do the subordinates just grin and bear it - hoping more senior officers will notice?
Does one of the subordinates go over their commanders head - and have a quiet word with the bosses boss?
Or is there a `work to rule' type scenario - where subordinates more or less tacitly rebel against the commander?
Obviously the dangers and safety issues in a team like this make it absolutely imperative the commander is at the top of their game.
Just wondering...
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 01:50
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Originally Posted by Monarch Man View Post
DUI is the scuttlebutt
Out celebrating her new gig?
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 02:12
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Originally Posted by ExAscoteer View Post
The 1950s 'phoned. Apparently they'd like their sexist back.
Damn! You stole my exact post.

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Old 14th Feb 2019, 02:59
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Originally Posted by Monarch Man View Post
DUI is the scuttlebutt
Originally Posted by golder View Post
Out celebrating her new gig?
If so, it sure wouldn't be the first time a pilot overindulged while celebrating a promotion.
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 03:25
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Here's a hit piece on Col. O'Malley for the #MeToo era:

Commander That Fired First Female USAF Demo Team Leader Made This Crass Video 15 Years Ago - The Drive

Col. O'Malley's callsign is Maestro. Someone attempted to upload the Gold Bond Powder video to YouTube but it was removed according to this note:




Last edited by Airbubba; 14th Feb 2019 at 03:45.
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