Glam from GoPro! Taken with Kirby’s GoPro Hero4 during a practice flight at the Flying Crown Ranch!
Kirby’s aerobatic technique has amazed many through out the years. He has always said that if he can show people something they have never seen before then he has done his job. While he makes his skills look easy, they don’t always start out that way! After an idea comes to mind, Kirby heads to the plane to test, flying at a much higher altitude for safety purposes. However, not all ideas make the final cut; while a certain skill may feel great from the plane, it doesn’t always look that way from the ground. Members of the team stand below and film to help Kirby make this judgment.When satisfied with the overall idea and look of a new skill, Kirby then practices to perfect it. He progressively flies lower and lower as he becomes more comfortable, pushing the limits and increasing intensity! After this process, the skill is now complete; the only thing left is to show it off!
Photo by Sam Myers
“When I was 21 years old flying corporate for La Quinta Motor Inn, our chief pilot was a really smart guy and he said, ‘Hey, if this jet ever ends up upside down with a CEO on board, we want you to be able to turn it right side up without killing everyone.’ I thought, ‘Makes sense to me!’” From that point on, flying became more than Kirby had ever imagined.
As a child, Kirby was always playing and running around with toy planes. “I don’t ever remember saying I wanted to be a pilot, I just always wanted to be a pilot.” At only 13 years old, he began flying. By 24, he was the youngest commercial pilot at Southwest Airlines and made captain by 28. Although he enjoyed flying commercial, it became a means to pay for his true love for aerobatics.
Kirby continuously trained to perfect his aerobatic skills and routines, which he was able to display at various air shows. There, he began to establish his continuously growing fan base and earned recognition for his skills with an acceptance onto the U.S. National Aerobatic Team. To date, Kirby has accumulated 13 medals in world competition.
By the early 2000’s, Kirby was recognized as one of the top 15 aerobatic pilots in the world and was asked to compete in the very first Red Bull Air Race. He transferred his explosive, aggressive flying style to the racetrack and is now a two time Red Bull Air Race World Champion.
Kirby resides on the “Flying Crown Ranch” between Tucson and Phoenix with his wife and fellow pilot, Kellie, and their daughter Karly. With a hangar and runway in the backyard, Kirby is only a few steps away from hopping in one of his several planes. (Be sure to check out the “Hangar” on the website to view Kirby’s fleet!)
When not flying, Kirby enjoys jumping out of airplanes and perfecting his skydiving skills. Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane, you ask? Because he has a perfectly good parachute, of course!
While Jason Resop’s love for flying started much earlier, it was in high school that he immersed himself in the world of aviation. Jason got a job fueling airplanes at a local airport in Chandler to pay for his hobby, and it was there that he was introduced to Red Bull Air Race pilot, Kirby Chambliss.
He received his private pilot’s certificate at the age of 18, and continued his flight education earning many certifications: commercial, multi-engine, instrument, and flight instructor. After receiving his flight instructor certificate, Jason transitioned jobs from fueling to flight instructing, and also gained a role ferrying Kirby’s planes to air shows and events.
As time went on, Jason became highly interested in the mechanics of Kirby’s airplanes. With his hands-on experience and Kirby’s help, he became a certified technician and began his new role on Team Chambliss as Crew Chief and Ferry Pilot. Jason is now in his 12th year working alongside Kirby. He takes care of and is responsible for the fleet of airplanes.
When Jason gets a chance to put the tools down, he enjoys skydiving with friends, four-wheeling in his Bronco, riding motocross, and mountain biking Arizona’s desert trails.
Kayla Layton became passionate about aviation just after high school when her uncle took her for her first flight in his Experimental Cozy. From that point on, being on the ground wasn’t nearly as exciting as being in the air! She began taking flying lessons at 18, but had to put them on hold to finish paying for college.
While finishing her degrees at Arizona State University, Kayla quenched her thirst for the sky by enjoying weekend flights to breakfast at various airports around the state with her uncle, meeting many passionate aviators along the way. After graduating in 2014, she began pursuing flying lessons again and is now in the final stages of completing her private pilot’s certificate.
As the newest team member to Team Chambliss, she begins her role as Team Communications Coordinator with great enthusiasm. Some of her major responsibilities are managing the team’s schedules at the Red Bull Air Races, social media, sponsor & media relations, and providing extra help wherever the team may need it.
Outside of working with the team, Kayla spends most of her free time flying. When not in the air, she enjoys dancing and hiking.
The third race of this year’s World Championship will be staged in Rovinj, Croatia, on 30-31 May. The stop in Rovinj will replace Sochi, Russia, which unfortunately cannot be conducted due to financial and organisational challenges.
The eight-stop 2015 Red Bull Air Race World Championship began in Abu Dhabi in February and is now preparing for the first ever stop in Chiba, Japan. After Rovinj, Croatia the remaining races will be held in Budapest, Hungary, (4-5 July), Ascot, United Kingdom (15-16 August), Spielberg, Austria (5-6 September), Fort Worth, Texas, USA (26-27 September), and Las Vegas, Nevada, USA (17-18 October).
Your go to site for all things air race…www.redbullairrace.com!
Having a father and a grandfather who were both pilots, there was no question on what Grant Groathouse would strive to achieve as he grew up. He began fueling at Chandler Municipal airport in high school to fund his love for flight, and received his private pilot certificate at the age of 17. He continued his training and received multiple ratings, including instrument, commercial, and flight instructor. Working alongside close friend Jason Resop, Grant also met Kirby during this time.
While Jason began his new position with Team Chambliss, Grant attended Arizona State University and received a degree in Aeronautical Management. Showing interest in helping Jason with Kirby’s plane, he was asked to join the team as a Ferry Pilot. He continues to help Jason with maintenance on all airplanes when needed and joins the team at air shows and Red Bull Air Races when available.
After achieving advanced ratings, Grant became a pilot for Allegiant Airlines and has been with the company for eight years. He enjoys working as a commercial pilot while getting to travel across the United States.
When he is not working for the airlines or the team, Grant spends his time recreational flying, traveling, and playing club hockey with friends.
With the first stop of the 2015 Red Bull Air Race season complete, Team Chambliss (TC) didn’t get the start that it was hoping for. Kirby lost his canopy while in the holding area over Lulu Island and was unable to race. After returning from Abu Dhabi, the team sat down with Kirby to ask a few questions and get his perspective on the first race of the season.
TC: Kirby, you had a great week in Training and then Qualified 4th. What were you expecting on race day?
KC: “I was expecting a great finish after a great week of training. I was expecting to make the podium.”
TC: You were in the hold over Lulu Island when your canopy departed. What was your initial thought?
KC: “I won’t be able to race! I was super disappointed!!
TC: You have been called lucky many times. Do you think you’re lucky?
KC: “No, not really…I guess I’m sort of lucky. Not lucky because it happened, but lucky because it could have been worse!”
TC: Have you ever been afraid? Flying or otherwise?
KC: “I have been afraid! My daughter Karly was 18 months old and I was letting her taste watermelon and she swallowed it and started choking. I was seriously afraid, because I didn’t know what to do. My wife grabbed her, turned her over and patted her back. Next thing you know, out came the piece of watermelon and Karly started crying. That was a helpless feeling!”
TC: Anything you want to share with us about the upcoming race in Japan?
KC: “I am looking forward to Japan! I performed there as part of the World Grand Prix in the late 90’s, and really enjoyed the people and the country! Of course, I’ll have a new canopy and ready to go for it!”
Team Chambliss has been in the UAE for ten days and it’s been an interesting adventure so far. Anything can happen on race day and it usually does! The team has worked incredibly hard, they are hoping for a big payoff tomorrow! Kirby qualified fourth today, laying down a respectable time of 1:00.036 with his best time this week being 00:57.409!
The different teams made many modifications on the short break, some extensive, some minor. It’s important to remember that some modifications don’t always show the anticipated results. Time wasted and money spent… That’s racing! Even utilizing all the great data, the variables are many, you never know what you’re going to end up with.
Kirby has had some terrific times this week, hasn’t hit a pylon all week! Careful, right?
A record number of pylon hits this week forced the race committee to limit Qualifying to one run. One run in Quali equals a lot of pressure.
The Team is very positive and Kirby will be racing for an all out win in Abu Dhabi!
You can watch on www.redbullairrace.com at 1000 UTC time, that would be 0300 MT. Follow the Team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Smoke On!