Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Branson first achieved notoriety with Virgin Records, a record label that started out with multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield and introduced bands like the Sex Pistols and Culture Club to the world music scene. Known for his wacky exploits used to promote his businesses, Branson is keen on playful antagonisms, exemplified by his "Mine is bigger than yours" decals on the new Airbus A340-600 jets used by his airline. He has also made several unsuccessful attempts to fly in a hot air balloon around the world.
The hot air balloon, called the "Virgin Atlantic Flyer," was the first hot air balloon ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean, and was the largest ever flown at 60.513 m³ (2,137,000 ft³ - 2.3 million cubic feet) volume, reaching speeds in excess of 130 mph (209 km/h).
In 1991, Branson crossed the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Arctic Canada, a distance of 7,672 km (4,767 miles), but their track took them a claimed 10,885 km. This again broke all existing records with speeds of up to 245 mph in a balloon measuring 2.6 million cubic feet.
He formed Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984, launched Virgin Mobile in 1999, and later failed in a 2000 bid to handle the National Lottery. He has also started a European short-haul airline, Virgin Express.
In October 2003, he teamed up with balloonist Steve Fossett as lead sponsor for an attempt to break the record for a non-stop flight around the world. A new aircraft, the GlobalFlyer, was built specially for the attempt by Scaled Composites and on March 3, 2005, at about 01:50 PM CST, Fossett completed the record-breaking flight after 67 hours and 1 minute, with an average speed of nearly 300 mph.
On September 25, 2004 he announced the signing of a deal under which a new space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, will license the technology behind SpaceShipOne to take paying passengers into suborbital space. The group plans to make flights available to the public by late 2007 with tickets priced at $190,000.
Branson has been tagged as a 'transformational leader' by management lexicon, with his maverick strategies and his stress on the Virgin Group as an organization driven on informality and information, one that's bottom heavy rather than strangled by top-level management.
Branson was 7th in the Sunday Times Rich List 2005.
Branson has identifed himself as a libertarian.
He has guest starred, playing himself, on several television shows, including Friends, Baywatch and Only Fools and Horses. He also is the star of a new reality television show on Fox called The Rebel Billionaire where sixteen contestants will be tested for their entrepreneurship and their sense of adventure.
Sir Richard appears at No. 85 on the 2002 List of "100 Greatest Britons" (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public). Branson's high public profile often leaves him open as a figure of satire - the 2000AD series Zenith featured a parody of Branson as a supervillain as at the time the comic's publisher and favoured distributor and the Virgin group were in competition.
- Unofficial blog of Sir Richard Branson
- Unofficial blog of the Virgin Group
- Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI)
- International Ballooning Commission (CIA) notable flights
- Svenska Ballongfederationen, Pacific ocean flights
- Profile on BBC News dated September 27, 2004
- Excerpt and Insights from Richard Branson's autobiography "Losing My Virginity"
- Richard Branson - TV Tome profile
- Unofficial Branson "Quest For The Best" website - Media Man Australia
- Richard Branson: 'We should abolish income tax and make electric cars'
- Branson, Richard. "Losing My Virginity: How I've Survived, Had Fun, And Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way", 1999, Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0812932293.
- Branson, Sir Richard. "Sir Richard Branson, the Autobiography", 2002, Longman. ISBN 0582512247
- Branson, Sir Richard and Prescot, Colin. "To the Edge of Space: The Adventures of a Balloonist", 2000, Boxtree. ISBN 0752218654
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