Richard Branson’s sports world records

In 1991, Branson and Lindstand took to the skies again, this time to make the first hot air balloon flight across the Pacific. Their Virgin Otsuka Pacific Flyer set off from Miyakonojo, Japan on January 16 and flew 4,767.1 miles before landing in arctic Canada 46 hours and 15 minutes later, claiming another Guinness World Record. This flight also had its perils. The Los Angeles Times reports that they “accidentally jettisoned one-third of their propane fuel” over the ocean 1,000 miles from Japan. They had two choices: ditch in rough seas 900 miles north of Midway, with only slight hope of rescue, or fly on and hope to get close enough to and somewhere in North America, where they had a better chance of being picked up. Their successful Atlantic trip had left them over-confident. With their situation over the Pacific, they figured they had maybe a 5 percent chance of surviving. Their balloon caught the jet stream, moving at speeds up to 218 miles per hour, resulting in “the longest manned balloon flight ever, helium or hot air” with no injuries.

From 1995 to 1998, Branson and Lindstand once again attempted a hot air ballooning record, this time attempting to be the first people to circumnavigate the globe. In 1998, accompanied by millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett, they broke a distance record by ballooning from Morocco to Hawaii, says the Robb Report, but successful circumnavigation eluded them.

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