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Wichita Instructor and Examiner Honored with FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

Reporter: Flyingmag

 Wichita Instructor and Examiner Honored with FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

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On August 20, National Flight Instructor of the Year and co-founder of Ortega Aviation Services Kirby Ortega received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award from the FAA. In an event hosted at the DOC B-29 Superfortress Hangar in Wichita, Kansas, family, friends, and colleagues from around the industry gathered to celebrate Ortega’s 50 years of safe piloting and instruction—and the importance of nurturing those who want to take to the skies as pilots. “Learning to fly has really been the foundation of our business,” said Russ Meyer, former chairman and CEO of Cessna Aircraft Co., in opening remarks at the event.

“The base of our business has been learning to fly, and frankly will continue to be. We recognized that in the [19]60s and ’70s, when we created an instructional program called the Cessna Pilot Centers. At one point in the early ’70s, we had 1,100 Cessna Pilot Centers in five languages all over the world.

A lot of us at Cessna were very proud to put a bumper sticker on our car that said, ‘We Teach the World to Fly.’” Almost 4,000 of the 18,000 aircraft manufactured in 1977 and 1978 by the general aviation industry were Cessnas built primarily to teach people how to fly. “A guy who just joined us a little bit ago—who learned to fly in August of 1973—earned his CFI, joined Cessna, and has focused his career on teaching people to learn to fly over the years,” said Meyer, introducing Ortega to the audience.

Ortega ran the Cessna Flying Club back when it had between 40 and 50 airplanes in its fleet, and he flew for Cessna’s transportation department. “But what he really wanted to do and loved to do was teach people to learn how to fly,” Meyer concluded. With more than 16,000 hours sitting in the right seat, Ortega has indeed put his focus on training and his role as a designated pilot examiner, though his logbook totals reflect a breadth of GA flying few pilots achieve.

“Spending almost 28,000 hours flying around the world, no doubt I have had some global moments, but it was meeting others that created my most treasured memories,” said Ortega. “During my 50 years of aviation, I have met other pilots, business professionals, and those who now are part of my family—solid people with whom I have shared incredible experiences.” Many members of the aviation journalism world have flown with Ortega in a wide range of Cessna aircraft, from the 162 Skycatcher light sport airplane to the Cessna Citation X—at the time, the world’s fastest business jet—for pilot reports and photo shoots.

Currently, at Ortega Aviation Services, where he serves as chief instructor, he specializes in Citation Mustang type rating training and mentorship. As a designated pilot examiner, he conducts practical tests for a number of certificates and ratings. About the Wright Brothers Award The FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award was created by the agency in 2003 to honor the first recognized pilots of powered, controllable aircraft, Wilbur and Orville Wright—on the centennial anniversary year marking their first sustained flight in the Wright Flyer at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903. To be eligible for the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, nominees must meet the following criteria: Hold a U.S.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or FAA pilot certificate Have 50 or more years of civil and military piloting experience or 50 or more years combined experience in both piloting and aircraft operations Be a U.S. citizen Have NOT had any airman certificate revoked The effective start date for the 50 years coincides with the nominee’s first solo flight or military equivalent.

The 50 years may be computed consecutively or nonconsecutively. Up to 20 years of the required 50 may be U.S. military experience.

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Wichita, KS







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