It wasn’t long after Rosa Lee Argotsinger started taking flight lessons after high school that she knew she wanted to be a professional pilot.
Now, Argotsinger, 33, is a demonstration pilot for Cessna Aircraft, showing off Citation jets and Caravans to potential customers around the world.
“It’s just a blast,” Argotsinger said. “I knew I wanted to do it as a career.”
Her interest in aviation was sparked when she flew as a child with her father and grandfather in their 1976 Cessna 182.
“The light bulb went off, and I was ready to seriously to commit to it,” she said.
So Argotsinger, who grew up in Haysville, earned a bachelor’s degree in aviation technology and began working as an instructor at Kansas State University in Salina.
When she graduated in 2002, however, “it was a terrible time to look for a job.”
So she continued flight instructing at K-State until she took a job in Independence as a contractor for Cessna, training customers buying single-engine airplanes on the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit.
“It started out as a 30-day contract,” Argotsinger said. “They told me I was on contract and not to expect anything beyond 30 days.”
The contract, however, grew into a full-time job.
After more than two years, Argotsinger returned to Wichita to run the flight training program at Cessna’s employee flying club and served as chief flight instructor for five years.
Now as a demonstration pilot, Argotsinger works closely with Cessna’s sales force doing demonstration flights for potential customers of Cessna’s Citation line.
“I am really enjoying being a part of flight ops,” Argotsinger said. “It’s a very close group.”
Argotsinger has about 4,700 flight hours and holds an air transport pilot rating, among other ratings.
Her husband, Mike, is also a pilot and works as an assistant program manager for the Citation X at FlightSafety’s Cessna Learning Center in Wichita.
They have two children, 9-year-old Mikey and 2-year-old Leo.
When not working, Argotsinger likes to spend time with her family, run and play piano.
What do you like about demonstrating Citations to customers?
Citations are easy to fly. … It’s fun when you take someone who’s maybe a little less experienced, who’s intimidated by the airplane and show them, for example, the approach speeds we’re going to be using are pretty similar to the approach speeds they used in their Corvalis. … It’s a forgiving airplane, and getting someone to see that it is something they can get comfortable with (is fun).
It sounds like you meet a variety of people.
Oh yeah. It’s nice to be in the CJ series because you meet a lot of owner-operators. These are the guys that are buying the airplanes to fly themselves and their families. Generally, they love aviation as much as the rest of us. It’s particularly fun to work with those customers. Same thing with the Caravans. … They’re pilots just like us. They like to talk airplanes, and that’s what we do.
Where do you fly?
Is it difficult to learn the ins and outs of flying in a particular country?
Yes. The department keeps an extensive log of essentially tribal knowledge on one country to another on how to get business done. We’re constantly referring to that. Even the vets that have been around for years and years go back to that to make sure we’ve got all our bases covered.
Where do you like to fly the most?
It’s easiest to fly in the U.S. and you really appreciate the structure of aviation in the States once you’ve flown elsewhere. … We’ve certainly been to some beautiful places, (such as) Australia. India was very interesting and eye opening. But we’re always glad to come home and fly in the States. … There’s a lot of bureaucracy in other countries. For example, we’ll do a local demo here in the States where we’ll go up, take the airplane to altitude, show the customers handling characteristics, taking off from an airport and coming back to the same airport. In India, that’s unheard of. And it’s hard to get them to understand that we’re not actually going somewhere — that we’re doing a demonstration flight. We can do it. But there are hoops to jump through.
You said you like flying some of the new airplanes. How so?
Showing people the new products like the CJ4 — it’s got a lot for the owner-operator. Most of the bells and whistles that were added are up front, along with some cabin comfort in the back. It’s fun to show off and talk about those things with another pilot and get them excited about the product. … When a new model comes out, we do a lot of demos with that. So that always stirs up excitement. People want to come check it out and go for a flight.
I’ll be on the (new Citation) M2 … down the road. There’s a progression within the department. The next type will be the (larger) XLS+, then the Sovereign.
What do you like the best about aviation?
I really enjoyed instructing when I did that. It was extremely rewarding to help someone move through training and achieve their rating and share this passion of aviation with somebody. (Now I like) actually being able to fly more than when I was instructing. It’s just a blast. It involves eye-hand coordination and situational awareness — all of that rolled into one.
You travel a lot. Any advice for other professionals with families whose jobs take them away from home?
Choose your partner wisely if you want a career. Their support is critical, and it won’t work without it.
What’s your best advice for young people seeking a career in aviation?
It’s … about finding your passion and going after it.