Kirby Chambliss knew from a very early age that he wanted to be a pilot and went airborne at 13. By 21, he was a pilot for a business jet company; at 24 he became the youngest commercial pilot at Southwest Airlines; and he made captain by 28. It was that very first job that led him into aerobatics.
"That first time we turned the airplane upside down, my whole focus changed," he remembers. "To me, flying was about being upside down and cart wheeling the airplane, taking an airplane and just ripping the guts out. That's what I still love to do." He went on to claim five U.S. National Aerobatic Championships, which caught the eye of officials from the Red Bull Air Race. "I loved aerobatics, I loved speed, and I did low-level flying anyway, so to me it was a natural fit." By 2006, he was the Red Bull Air Race Champion, a title he's gunning to reclaim again.