Branson record bid airborne
Saturday 19 December 1998
After a two-week wait for the right weather conditions and overcoming complications caused by the crisis in Iraq the ICO global challenge set off on its 24,000-mile flight at 9.30am from Marrakesh in Morocco with its three-man crew.
Mr Branson, 48, Per Lindstrand, 47, and millionaire American Steve Fossett, 54, who hold numerous ballooning records between them, have dedicated the attempt to their former co-pilot Alex Ritchie who died in April after a parachuting accident. Mr Ritchie saved the lives of Messrs Branson and Lindstrand when the Virgin Global Challenger balloon crashed in the Algerian desert in January 1997.
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