The thought that “Air” Jordan could have a predecessor in the sneaker game (especially by Keds) is pretty laughable. That is, until you discover Kolonel Keds. While Kolonel Keds was a fictional character and Jordan obviously real, the reality is that Kolonel Keds was taking flight (literally) in basketball sneakers long before Michael Jordan was in “Flight”. During the 1960’s Kolonel Keds became the official mascot for Keds pushing sneakers that featured a “booster pad”.

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His character was so gangsta that Keds would have this man actually flying courtesy of a real life rocket pack developed by Bell Aerosystems for the US Army (having previously been a comic book character). While in the air, Kolonel Keds was portrayed by Bell pilot, Bob Croder but on the ground actor Bob Harder took over the role as the space age hero. In the commercials on take off and landing, the camera would zoom in on his Keds sneakers.

A 16-page picture booklet giving scientific explanation of the rocket belt used to get Kolonel Keds air born was offered to highlight the new technology of “man-flight”. Then there was a Kolonel Ked Space Club Membership with promotional items such as a decoder for the Keds Supersonic Space Whistle and a Keds Supersonic Space Whistle.

6219keds1x3Image above via timepassagesnostalgia

Add to the fact that Michael Jordan sported Keds while playing for the McDonalds All American Highschool Basketball Team and well, Keds is a true OG having quite possibly served as inspiration for Nike’s famous Flight campaign (which included the Air Jordan line). Check out the commercials below and drop a comment to voice your opinion.