“King is a man’s man…a generous philanthropist…and a great friend.”
King Kirchner grew up in Perry and graduated from Perry High School in 1945. At age 16, he began working as a roughneck in the oilfields. Kirchner received his degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Oklahoma State University (1950) and in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He served in Germany during the Korean Conflict and, between 1954 and 1963, was an engineer and then vice president of the Unit Drilling Division of Woolaroc Oil Company in Bristow. Kirchner became co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Tulsa-based Unit Corporation, the fourth largest onshore drilling contractor in the United States, from 1963 to 2001. Kirchner and his partner invested $10,000 each, and then borrowed $140,000 to buy three rotary drilling rigs, along with the Unit Drilling name in 1963, thus founding Unit Drilling Company which later became Unit Corporation. Following his retirement in 2003 Kirchner continued to serve as a director emeritus of Unit Corporation.
Despite his retirement, Kirchner has continued to be active in the oil and gas industry. He founded Kirchner Investments LLC., a family oil and gas company that as of 2019 owns several thousand oil and gas mineral properties in Oklahoma and surrounding states and has invested in over 250 oil and gas wells. In 2008 Kirchner co-founded Rawhide Well Service, Co., a well workover company with 7 workover rigs located in Liberal, Kansas.
At the age of 91, Kirchner is an active aviator and loves to travel in his own aircraft. He also serves as President of Sky King Corporation, an aircraft dealership company he founded in 1982, which has bought and sold hundreds of aircraft varieties.
Kirchner was inducted to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame and The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business Hall of Fame in 2006.
King Kirchner has logged more than 8,000 flying hours and owned more than 150 airplanes. In 1982, he formed Sky King Corporation, which buys and sells used aircraft.
Kirchner grew up in Perry, Oklahoma.