- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Air Force announced Capt. Zoe Kotnik, its first female pilot to head the F-16 Viper demonstration team, was relieved of her command due to a “loss of confidence.”

Officials are tight-lipped on what exactly happened that would derail the officer’s command after two weeks at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. Her tenure was announced with a “Captain Marvel”-inspired tweet on Jan. 29, a reference to the female fighter pilot in the upcoming big-budget movie, and ended 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,” said Col. Allen Herritage, director of public affairs at ACC, in a statement, Air Force Times reported Tuesday. “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.”

Privacy concerns prevented him from disclosing additional information.

The original announcement had comic book lettering that said she would fly “higher, further and faster than anyone else.”

“We have thousands of airmen across our Air Force serving our country, and not one of them is perfect,” Col. O’Malley said on Shaw’s Facebook page. “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.”

Capt. Kotnik is also the Air Force’s first female single-ship tactical demonstration pilot.

Maj. John “Rain” Waters, who headed the team last season, will resume his command, the newspaper reported.

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