Do you need someone to steal a jet, catch a crocodile, or skydive in to extract venom from a King Cobra? Meet the Airplane Repo man with nerves of steel, Mike Kennedy.
A full-size action figure in his late 50s, Mike stars in Airplane Repo on the Discovery Channel.
Mike and his wife Valerie were at this year’s SUN ‘n FUN, signing autographs for fans.
The Discovery Channel’s Airplane Repo show features experts hired by banks to repossess high-value aircraft.
While most humans avoid danger, people like Kennedy thrive on the adrenaline rush.
“The scariest situation I have been in on the job was being face down on the tarmac with a rifle pressed against the back of my head while Colombian soldiers searched a King Air I had just stolen back from smugglers. I had no idea what might be onboard that airplane and the Colombians were convinced I was the smuggler,” Kennedy said.With 20 years experience repossessing aircraft, Kennedy continues to add to his skill set.
He’s working on earning his helicopter rating. He is a certified ATP, with ratings that include ATP (Multi-engine land), and Commercial (Airplane single engine land, single engine sea). His type ratings include A/BA-3100, A/CE-560XL, A/EMB-120, A/HS-125, A/LR-60, and A/LR-JET.
He has become adept at wrangling customs paperwork, flight permits, and employing the art of stealth in recovering high-value aircraft from all parts of the world.
“The most valuable airplane I ever recovered was a $40 million Gulfstream,” he said.
His hobbies include performing motorcycling stunts, skydiving, weapons trading, extracting venom from snakes, catching crocodiles, and oh, by the way, he owns a leopard he calls Spot. He is as comfortable in a wingsuit as a businessman is in wingtip shoes.
“Valerie is pretty fearless too,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what I’m doing — skydiving, flying, racing motorcycles, catching crocodiles, handling big cats, or extracting venom from a cobra — she is right there in the middle of it with me.”
What drives him to live life on the edge?
“I would like to be remembered as someone who didn’t want to miss out on anything,” Kennedy said. “If something interests me, I don’t want to watch someone else or read about it or see it on TV, I want to do it, and not only do it, but learn to do it well.”
Outside of his business and the show, Kennedy promotes a cause.
“Our biggest project right now is fighting poachers in Africa and bringing awareness to the crisis rhinos and elephants are facing every day,” he said.
At the current rate, rhinos will be extinct by 2025 and elephants will be soon to follow, he noted.
“Aviation plays a crucial role in the war, flying patrols, hauling supplies and equipment and transporting rangers and other vital personnel to remote areas,” he said.