Sir Richard Branson, (born July 18, 1950) is a famed British entrepreneur, is best known for his widely successful Virgin brand, a banner that encompasses a variety of business organizations.
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. Branson was knighted by the Queen for his business prowess and exuberance for the spirit of the United Kingdom. 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) 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 60.513 m3.
In October 2003, Branson annouced he would be teaming up with balloonist Steve Fossett to attempt to break the record for a non-stop flight around the world. A new aircraft, the GlobalFlyer will be built specially for the attempt by Scaled Composites.
Branson has guest starred, playing himself, on several television shows, including Friends, Baywatch and Only Fools and Horses.
Branson appears in the 2002 List of "100 Greatest Britons" (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public), alongside others ranging from Winston Churchill and Isaac Newton to David Beckham and Aleister Crowley.