Long before inverted flat spins and torque rolls was an enthusiastic young man pushing toward a career in mainstream aviation. With 4,000 hours of logged flight time, including jet time, Kirby was already ahead of the game. This put him in a position to progress quickly. The only thing standing in his way? A 737 type rating. At the time, the average cost for this rating was approximately $10,000, and renting a 737 felt like it cost a million dollars! For someone only making $15,000 a year, spending that amount of money was overwhelming and frightening. However, he didn’t let this stand in his way.
“Short of robbing a bank, I was going to do whatever it took to get the money I needed,” Kirby says. Prior to being hired as a first officer, he worked for Southwest Airlines on the ramp and as an operations agent. Through the company, he decided to invest in profit sharing and took a loan against it to fund his training. “I never had any other option,” says Kirby. “I was going to make it happen no matter what I had to do.” And he did.
One year later, at the spry age of 24 years old, Kirby transitioned into his role as a first officer. “I got hired at just the right time,” Kirby reminisces. “Four years later, the company doubled its fleet, in turn, doubling the number of captains needed. This put me in line for captain earlier than expected upon completing the necessary upgrade training”. At 28 years old, Kirby became one of the youngest captains to fly for Southwest Airlines.