KIRBY ORTEGA - CESSNA PILOT FOR 30 YEARS - is a BELIEVER
“My past career was with Cessna Aircraft where I spent almost 30 years before accepting an early offer to retire. I was one of several chief pilots with my primary responsibility training our piston engine customers transitioning to the G1000. During my time at Cessna I obtained six type ratings including one in the flagship of the fleet - the Model 750, Citation X. I visited more than 90 different countries performing C208 Caravan demos, low and slow, a great way to see the world. On the jet side of the house I flew demos in the - back then - “new” C525 CitationJet, as well as the C560XL and the current C510 Mustang. I’m a Designated Pilot Examiner for the C510 as well as a mentor pilot in anything Cessna. Of my more than 24,000 flight hours accident/ incident free flight hours, 14,000 plus hours are dual given. With this background I consider myself a fair source to evaluate both man and machine!
An invitation was extended by Brian Cox of Tamarack Aerospace Group at the Citation Jet Pilot’s convention held in Colorado Springs this year to fly the Tamarack active winglet system on a C525, CitationJet. To be honest I was never a fan of winglets installed on any Citation including the Citation X. From my experience they just didn’t seem to provide much of an advantage for the expense but that scepticism changed one morning in September.
I sat right seat, of course, and my Captain was a young, successful gentleman named Ryan. Ryan has a CitationJet, based at KPWA, with the G1000 conversion and was thankful I was there to lead him through the hybrid Honeywell system, half digital and half analog. Who better to appraise the aircraft demo than a current C525 pilot? We went straight to FL400 in about 28 minutes. Ryan mentioned he would never attempt that in his 525, says it runs out of steam about 35K. He also commented on the heavier feel in roll control but liked it as a sense of stability. Throughout the climb he commented on the difference to what he saw and felt, even saying he was going to try and fly the same flight profile in his CitationJet to note the real differences. After a short ATC delay we eventually climbed to FL410 and disengaged the autopilot to feel the handling characteristics. Impressive! Little more square feet on the wing and added dihedral made a significant difference up at altitude. I tried it out with a few turns and pushing the rudder in a bit to see it oscillate about the yaw axis and it was back to straight and level in about 7 cycles, if that much. Nice! I would invite you to read the technical description of the system provided by Tamarack on their website. This isn’t your daddie’s winglet. So how successful was this demo flight?I think everybody was favorable impressed by the winglets as two out of the three placed deposits, including young Ryan! As for me, I learned you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. I definitely believe the team at Tamarack are on to something good!”
—- Kirby Ortega, Yingling Aviation - Chief Pilot,
Aircraft Management Program
2002 FAA National Flight Instructor of the Year
2014 National Association of Flight Instructor’s Hall of Fame
FAA Designated Pilot Examiner