Kirby V. Ortega, who was chief pilot at the Cessna Aircraft Company for more than 30 years before retiring, was named to the NAFI Flight Instructor Hall of Fame at the NAFI members’ dinner at Sun ‘n Fun.
Ortega, affectionately known as “Captain KO,” was surprised by the honor at the dinner, attended by NAFI members, sponsors and members of Ortega’s family and former colleagues.
Among the former colleagues who joined NAFI Chairman Robert Meder in presenting the award were former Cessna CEO and now EAA President Jack Pelton and his wife Rose.
Pelton said that Ortega taught Rose to fly and that he had “created a world-class flight operation at Cessna” including instructing for Pelton’s own Citation-Mustang type rating.
Ortega, 56, said the “honor was a complete surprise.” He added that after looking at the list of previous recipients, “this is really something.”
The National Association of Flight Instructors sponsors the National Flight Instructor Hall of Fame. Its purpose 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.
For more information about the Hall of Fame, and previous recipients of the award, go to www.nafinet.org/programs/