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Morning Sun
  • Family of pilots reunites during holidays

  • Jim Kirby and his three sons share more than a family relationship. They are also all pilots.



    Granted, they aren’t all current on their licenses, but they have flown and may well be inspired to get back into a pilot’s seat since the oldest son, Alan Kirby of Wichita, purchased a small plane six months ago.

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  • Jim Kirby and his three sons share more than a family relationship. They are also all pilots.
    Granted, they aren’t all current on their licenses, but they have flown and may well be inspired to get back into a pilot’s seat since the oldest son, Alan Kirby of Wichita, purchased a small plane six months ago.
    The family was together for the holidays.
    “My son Brian, who lives in Maryland, flew in the day before Christmas,” the eldest Kirby said. “My other son, Kevin, lives in Bentonville, Ark. All three are Pittsburg  State University graduates. I’m so very proud of all of them.”
    A former resident of the Asbury, Mo., area, he is now at Carrington Assisted Living.
    “I’ve always farmed, but I had an accident on my four-wheeler,” said Kirby, who turned 88 in December. “I couldn’t walk for a while and they put me in Carrington. I got better, but I liked it so well at Carrington that I stayed.”
    He did some flying on B-17s and B-24s during his World War II military service, but wasn’t a pilot.
    “I was a flight engineer and gunner,” Kirby said. “I flew one mission out over the Pacific looking for submarines, and we all fell asleep.”
    He had always wanted to be a pilot as a youngster, and finally decided to go for it. By then, his oldest son, Alan, was also interested in flying.
    “Dad and I learned to fly together,” he said.
    They got their pilot’s licenses on the same day in 1963, and the son went on to become a professional pilot.
    Jim Kirby taught some flying lessons, and counts Dr. Bruce Daniel, PSU physics professor emeritus, among his favorite students. Another favorite, Patricia McAtee, became his second wife and the mother of  younger sons Brian and Kevin Kirby.
    “Dad started us out early, when we were in high school,” Kevin Kirby said.  “But he didn’t teach me,  I had a flight instructor.”
    “Kevin and I had over 100 hours (of flight time) when Mom and Dad sold the plane,” Brian Kirby added.
    Their father said that it was a couple of months before the two realized the plane was gone.
    “You were too busy having fun,” he said.
    Now they’re having fun again. Riding in brother Al’s plane has revived their interest in small planes and piloting. It also has their father  interested in soaring again.
    “I bought the plane so Dad could fly again,” Alan Kirby said. “He’s still active  and taking him up flying is a hoot.”
    He’s even planning a spring flying trip.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Dad, Kevin and I are flying to see Brian in Maryland,” Alan Kirby said. “It’ll be a fun trip.”
    His father is looking forward to the trip in his son’s plane.
    “I flew little planes like that coast to coast and to Canada,” Jim Kirby said. “That little plane just hops in the air. If I were younger, I’d have beaten Alan out for it.”
    Granddaughter Maria Kirby, though she enjoyed going up in her uncle’s airplane, said she likes the big planes best.
    “They have movies,” she said.

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