Classic Air Medical has grown considerably since its humble beginnings on the shores of Lake Powell, but its culture and focus remain largely unchanged.
Two brothers from Utah, Brent and Mark Henderson, both entrepreneurs and business partners, had an interaction with a neighbor that would change the course of their lives. He proposed the idea of them bankrolling a helicopter for an opportunity to get into the seismic work supporting the oil-and-gas exploration. The brothers, who knew nothing about aviation, realized the potential there and made the investment.
It was 1984 when the adventure began, starting with a Bell 206 helicopter. This was the beginning of the story that led them to become Classic Air Medical.
Once the seismic work slowed down, the neighbor walked away from the operation and left the helicopter to Brent and Mark. Without a pilot, the brothers attempted to sell the helicopter but with no luck. Eventually, a pilot was hired and the operation continued. But the revelation came when vacationing at Lake Powell. A friend’s son took a bad fall from a cliff and was severely injured. After taking 4 hours by boat to transport the injured person to medical help, they recognized how the helicopter could help.
Classic Lifeguard began in 1988. A second helicopter was acquired and as they gained experience and opportunity, they purchased even more aircraft. Sadly, in November of 1991, Brent Henderson was killed while flying a Bell 206 at the Salt Lake City Airport. Mark was left to run the company.
In the years that followed, the company quickly evolved. Expansion opportunities widened the realm of service, including Riverton, Wyoming.
In 2013 Mark Henderson stepped down as CEO and Mark’s son, Tony Henderson took the reigns as CEO with the funding from an investment group. Tony continues leading the organization as a compassionate, caring and high-quality leader.
As things progressed, it led to the restructuring of the company and Classic Lifeguard became Classic Air Medical (CAM). Somehow, through it all, CAM held on to the culture of the original family-run company. Leadership in the company placed a lot of trust in the pilots and flight nurses. In such remote locations, micromanagement would never work. Pilots and crews need to be able to make split-second decisions. This leads to a culture of trust and as always, safety. Classic is committed to developing highly skilled pilots and places a priority on training, technology, risk assessment, and instrument flying proficiency.
This culture of trust and safety expands into the people they help and the lives they save every day. You can feel at ease knowing yourself or your loved one are getting the best possible care and commitment.
This year marks 31 years since the Henderson brothers launched their air medical operation on the shores of Lake Powell.
Information obtained from Vertical 911 magazine and the story by Dan Megna.
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