Captain asked to leave after ‘loss of confidence’

 news.com.au  2/13/2019 9:53:37 PM 

Captain Zoe Kotnik became the first female pilot to lead the US Air Force’s Viper team last month. A fortnight later, she was asked to leave.

New York PostFebruary 14, 20199:54am

The first female pilot to lead the US Air Force’s Viper team was asked to leave after two weeks on the job, the Air Force Times reported.

Captain Zoe Kotnik was commander of the F-16 Viper Demo Team, a fleet that performs complicated aerial stunts at widely seen events such as the Super Bowl.

Colonel Allen Herritage, director of public affairs at Air Combat Command, stated that Colonel Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, relieved Captain Kotnik of command due to his “loss of confidence in her ability to lead and command.”

“We have thousands of airmen across our air force serving our country, and not one of them is perfect,” Colonel O’Malley told the Air Force Times.

“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.”

Capt Kotnik graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2011 and has accumulated more than 1000 hours in aircraft during her time in service.

Officials have not revealed details into the reasons behind the decision — however, in a lengthy Facebook post, Colonel O’Malley simply said she made “mistakes”.

That post has received an outpouring of responses, with many questioning why the matter was shared on social media.

“You release this on social media!? What happened to respect for the uniform?” Facebook user Rob Sprague asked, while Chris Snider added: “Let’s blast it all over social media Colonel. Not professional or warranted.”

Her appointment was announced with much fanfare via a Captain Marvel-inspired tweet on January 29 — believed to be a reference to the female fighter pilot in the upcoming film.

The tweet included a photo of her with the caption, “In that instant, she knew she could fly her F-16 higher, further and faster than anyone else.”

It received an outpouring of support and congratulations from members of the public.

Breaking news!@ACC_Commander , commander of @Air Combat @USAF_ACC, has certified @usairforce Capt. Zoe "SiS" Kotnik as the new #ViperDemoTeam pilot.

She is also the Air Force's first female single-ship tactical demonstration pilot! pic.twitter.com/ol67541aRe

— F-16 Viper Demo Team (@ViperDemoTeam) January 29, 2019

She will continue to serve in “non-supervisory role” in the Air Force’s 20th Fighter Wing, said Capt Alannah Staver, a spokeswoman for the unit.

Capt Kotnik’s first Viper shows were scheduled for March 30 and 31 at the Naval Air Station Key West.

The unit will now be commanded by Major John Waters, who led the Viper team last year.

Capt Kotnik has not commented publicly on her sacking and appears to have deactivated her social media accounts.

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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