April 10, 2014 - Cessna's chief pilot for more than 30 years, Kirby Ortega, was inducted into the NAFI Flight Instructor Hall of Fame during the NAFI members' dinner at Sun 'n Fun last week in Lakeland, Florida.
Ortega, (Captain KO) was surprised by the honor at the dinner, attended by NAFI members, sponsors, members of Ortega's family, and former colleagues. One of those colleagues was Jack Pelton, EAA chairman who was formerly CEO of Cessna, and his wife, Rose. Pelton noted that Ortega taught Rose to fly and that he had created a world-class flight operation at Cessna, including instructing for Jack's own Citation-Mustang type rating.
For Ortega, 56, the honor was a complete surprise. "This is really something, he said."
The purpose of the National Flight Instructor Hall of Fame is to recognize those individuals who have made significant regional or national-level contributions to aviation education and flight instruction while reflecting credit upon themselves and their profession. It highlights the important role flight instructors' play as a foundation for the safety of the entire national air transportation system.