New Ground School Goes Beyond Pilot Training

 - November 11, 2019, 4:54 PM
Teresa Ortega is managing partner of Ortega Aviation Services, a new Wichita-based pilot training, testing, and maintenance consulting business. (Photo: Jerry Siebenmark)

Kirby and Teresa Ortega have combined their more than 50 years of experience with business aircraft maintenance programs and pilot training to establish Ortega Aviation Services (OAS), a flight training, testing and consulting company. It’s not a traditional flight school because OAS focuses on ground school and preparing private pilot students to pass the FAA knowledge test as well as the oral portion of their practical flight tests.

OAS managing partner Teresa Ortega said with a pilot shortage and the rise of accelerated and online ground school programs, she thinks there’s an opportunity to offer students a ground school that provides for a lot of give-and-take with instructors—i.e. asking and answering questions—that such programs might miss, and that some students need more than others. “[It] in my mind leaves room for a lot of unsafe pilots,” she told AIN. “I want them to learn how to fly an airplane safely.”

Located at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport (ICT), OAS operates from a nearly 3,000-sq-ft building that includes two classrooms equipped with smartboards and other electronic teaching devices as well as a room equipped with two flight simulators for transition training and other programs, including an aviation course for high school STEM teachers.  

OAS’s other training services include checkride preparation; G1000 transition; flight review; instrument proficiency check; 6158 single-pilot certification; commercial pilot license; certified flight instructor; and Part 107 remote pilot (drone) license. Students have access to airplanes and flight instructors through OAS’s 11 contract instructors as well as relationships the company has with various flight schools and aviation businesses. 

Kirby Ortega serves as the company’s chief instructor. An FAA designated pilot examiner for 30 years, Ortega was named the FAA’s National Flight Instructor of the Year in 2002. In 2014 he was inducted into the National Flight Instructors Hall of Fame. Prior to starting OAS, he retired after 29 years at Cessna Aircraft where he was chief pilot for single-engine operations. 

Besides training and testing, OAS also provides consulting for companies and aircraft owners on aviation maintenance programs and pre-purchase inspections, which is where Teresa Ortega’s experience lies. In addition to her qualifications as a commercial pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings, she previously worked at Textron Aviation for 25 years, including her most recent role there as a maintenance program sales director.