Captain Zoe M. Kotnik is the first female Commander and Pilot of the United States Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, assigned to the 20th Operations Group, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. (U.S. Air Force photo)
"Capt. Zoe Kotnik, former Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demonstration Team pilot, was relieved from her position as commander of the Viper Demonstration Team by Col. Derek O'Malley, the 20th Fighter Wing commander, due to a loss of confidence in her ability to lead and command," wing spokeswoman Capt. Alanna Staver said in a statement.
In a separate post on Facebook, O'Malley noted Kotnik had made "mistakes."
"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," he said in the post.
O'Malley continued, "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."
Kotnik will no longer perform with the demo team "but will continue to serve in a non-supervisory role in the 20th Fighter Wing," Staver said.
Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, certified Kotnik to lead the team on Jan. 29.
Kotnik, whose call sign is SiS, was recently profiled by the Air Force as its first female single-ship tactical demonstration pilot.
Calling aviation geeks in New York City: The British are coming.
In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.
QUETTA, Pakistan/KABUL (Reuters) - The brother of the leader of the Afghan Taliban was among at least four people killed in a bomb blast at a mosque in Pakistan on Friday, two Taliban sources told Reuters, an attack that could affect efforts to end the Afghan war.