Michael Kendrick started his Lighter than Air career in 1970 when there were only two hot air balloons in the UK. Recognizing the potential commercially, he bought a used balloon and became a commercial pilot in 1972. Unfortunately, it was illegal to advertise on balloons at that time so he began a battle to legalize it. Kendrick began building a fleet of balloons for major brands and in 1979 led a filmed balloon expedition across the Sudan including the hostile regions. Always pushing the boundaries, the expedition included dropping a parachutist from the balloon at 16,000 feet and catching him again at 6,000 feet. It was the first time anyone had jumped out of a balloon and landed back on it.
In the early eighties, Kendrick attempted to fly to the edge of space in a project supported by NASA, in a balloon and pressurized capsule. The attempt failed and almost cost him his life. Kendrick built a large fleet of aircraft and set his sights on reinventing The Blimp. He joined forces with Richards Branson, who was intent on crossing the Atlantic and Pacific by balloon and attempting to fly around the world non-stop.
Within five years Kendrick built a fleet of 19 Blimps operating in over 30 countries, all of which needed to complete a certification program. The world’s leading brands became clients including Goodyear, Budweiser, MetLife, Sanyo, Virgin, Blockbuster, etc. Mike also introduced balloons carrying passengers and launchedfrom Egypt’s Valley of the Kings (PIC) and flights over the Las Vegas strip.
He was the first Brit to own a US airline by launching Vintage Airways, operating two DC3’s on a themed flight service from Orlando to Key West, where every day was May 8th -‘Victory in Europe day’ with superbly restored ‘art deco’ aircraft. He was Flight Director of Richard Branson’s trans-Pacific flight which was close to catastrophe, as was the attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
In January 2000, Kendrick captured the world speed record for Blimps and was awarded the coveted Federation Aeronautic International Prix Henry Delavaulx medal.
In 2000, Kendrick discovered a method to detect buried landmines and under the UN flag deployed his airships, carrying synthetic aperture radar in Kosovo and Croatia. He also raised $250,000 to deploy clinics to fit prosthetics to victims in Africa and was kidnapped at gun point in Tanzania from which he escaped unhurt. He personally recruited Nelson Mandela along with other Signatories as Patrons of his Mineseeker Foundation.
In 2014, he contracted two life threatening cancers which are now in remission. He famously said “I treat cancer like a football match. The score is Mike 2 Cancer 0 and if it comes back I will kick it into touch again.”