Chairman, Brian D. Kessler

Brian Kessler who is based in Los Angeles is an inveterate inventor who has always had a passion for ‘entrepreneurial innovation’. Presently Managing Partner of SBL Capital he founded and built Maui Toys to being the world’s third largest toy manufacturer and sees Hybrid flight as ‘the next big thing’ in aviation.

When asked about the name ‘Straightline Aviation’ Kessler responded, “It’s what we’re about – the shortest distance connecting two points is a straight line - which is exactly what these aircraft offer. No loading on to trucks, then on to ships or airplanes, then back on to trucks or trains to get to the final destination. By going in a straight line from A to D we eliminate the multiple-handling costs and time at B and C as well as the expensive road and airport infrastructure requirements and… “ he emphasized with a grin, “we do all this at a lower cost and an incredibly low carbon footprint. What’s not to love about that?”

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Kendrick

Mike’s roots are in marketing and PR which is where he discovered the power of aerial advertising. This led him to form Lighter Than Air Ltd. where he produced numerous TV programs on a local, national and international level to commercialize the potential of hot air balloons and airships

In 1988, in partnership with Richard Branson, Mike formed the Virgin Airship and Balloon Company. VABC would quickly grow to become the world’s largest aerial advertising agency, operating over 70 aircraft in some 30 countries, for blue chip clients like Goodyear, Budweiser, Met Life and Sanyo.

VABC employed some 400 staff with teams of aviation specialists operating in a highly technical and regulated business to the same criteria as commercial airlines.

As Project Director for all of Sir Richard’s high-profile world record attempts, Mike was responsible for flight operations, safety, technical assessment and media management. He was also a director and founding shareholder of several other Virgin companies including Virgin Projects, Vintage Airlines, and Virgin Blockbuster.

In 1999, Mike founded The Mineseeker Foundation to raise awareness for landmine victims and to seek technological solutions for clearing mines. He personally recruited eminent patrons including Nelson Mandela, Queen Noor, Sir Richard Branson, and Lord Attenborough.

Mike has held a commercial pilot’s license and several aviation world records.

Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Dorey

A graduate of the London School of Economics with a BSc in Economics and Finance, Mark is an experienced commercial director. He has held senior positions at a variety of service industry companies and trained as a Chartered Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers).

Mark next worked as Group Financial Controller for KLP Group Plc. before moving on to PepsiCo as an international accountant working in Spain and Turkey.

On leaving PepsiCo he joined the Virgin Group, where he worked with Mike Kendrick for almost 10 years in the aerial advertising and marketing services division. As COO of The Lightship Group, he also managed the largest fleet of commercial airships ever operated with responsibility for business strategy and planning. He negotiated numerous of multi-million dollar service contracts with blue chip clients like Goodyear and Sanyo and established businesses in Brazil, Singapore, South Africa, Asia and the USA.

Mark was a founding Director of Mineseeker where he held the position as Responsible Officer in respect of the Civil Aviation Authority for UK operations.

Subsequently, Mark acted as Managing Director of a number of companies in the media, marketing and events sector before joining up with Mike again as a shareholder and director in Mineseeker and subsequently Seeker Technologies.

Co-Founder and President Straightline USA, David M. Tait OBE

A Scot, by birth, David worked for the Thomson/Britannia group in Spain, Cyprus and Greece before moving to Toronto in 1975 to join charter airline WardAir.

From there he was recruited by Sir Freddie Laker as General Manager for Laker Airways Canada, then in 1979 Tait moved to Miami as VP, Marketing for the carrier’s revolutionary transatlantic ‘SkyTrain’ service.

Following Laker’s demise in 1982, Tait joined a Miami-based aviation consulting firm and, having been referred by Sir Freddie, it was there that he wrote the business plan for what would become Virgin Atlantic Airways.

In 1984, Tait moved to New York City to become Virgin Atlantic’s first US employee and as Executive Director and Executive Vice President, reporting to chairman Richard Branson, Tait led every aspect of the airline’s North American operation, building it from scratch to a multi billion-dollar company.

In 2001 at Buckingham Palace, David’s achievements were recognized when he was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of The British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to British aviation in the United States”.

Tait left Virgin in 2002 to serve as CEO for Avocet Aircraft and Spitfire Aviation Partners before returning to Canada as SVP Customer Service, for Air Canada. In 2008 Tait returned to the US to form Consultait, a consulting firm focused on brand building, marketing and customer service for a variety of international clients. David joined the board of Seeker Technologies in 2012.

Director of Flight Operations, James Dexter

Jim Dexter is an extremely experienced lighter than air commercial operations executive having held senior positions with all the major airship operating companies over an aviation career spanning 30 years.
A highly qualified pilot, he has been licensed by the FAA, CAA and LBA, and has a total of over 12,000 hours, including 500 as test pilot on several airship development programs.
Jim was recruited by The Virgin Group as Director of Operations of its US based subsidiary, The Lightship Group, and was instrumental in obtaining a FAA Part 135 Operating Certificate, the first and only ever issued to an airship operator in the United States. During this time he also obtained operating certificates in the UK, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Jim has written several operations manuals for airship operations and was a member of the FAA Rule Making Committee from 2000-03. He has also set up training programs and audit and inspection programs for airship operations ensuring the highest levels of operational safety.
From 2011 Jim worked as Engineering Test Pilot for Northrop Grumman and was Co-pilot on the LEMV hybrid aircraft flight for the US Army.

Director of Logistics and Operational Support, Ron Hyde

Ron has over 30 years of experience in managing logistics throughout Alaska and the Pacific Rim. In 2002, Ron founded PRL Logistics, Inc. PRL specializes in “the last tactical mile” providing comprehensive support for extremely complicated, remote projects with limited infrastructure. Ron led his team to support all concepts of remote sustainment, workforce logistics and training, and material logistics on major projects in Oil & Gas, Mining, U.S. Defense Projects, and Government Programs. This work included comprehensive project logistics feasibility studies, concept of operations, modeling, optimization strategies and execution plans designed by PRL.

Ron has extensive experience coordinating and implementing complex logistical projects at over 800 sites throughout Alaska and the Pacific Rim in extreme arctic, sub-arctic, and maritime conditions. With over 25 years as a rural resident in “Bush” Alaska, Ron speaks Yup’ik Eskimo and prior to establishing PRL he gained experience as a wilderness guide, remote law enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue, and emergency medical response specialist with a strong understanding of community relations in native and non-native cultures.

His background in logistics includes extensive knowledge in remote and urban transportation planning, procuring, risk management, insurance and managing the following: marine operations, air support, overland transportation, turnkey remote camp design, construction, operation and maintenance, radio and satellite communication, remote medical evacuation and safety and management of waste material transportation and disposal operations.

He has won numerous awards for his successful project execution and management including: Joseph Jacobs Master Builder Award - Jacobs Engineering, U.S. Vice President Al Gore Hammer Award – Aleutians Project/TERC the United States Corps of Engineers (USCOE) Commanders Award, Alaska Oil & Gas Association’s Contractor of the Year for Safety Performance, Outstanding Individual in Oil & Gas, and Outstanding Small Business of the Year.

Finance Director, David Oliver

Qualified Chartered Accountant with over 25 years partner level experience, Former chairman of Society of Chartered Accountants in the West Midlands.