Indian, 67, claims record for highest hot air balloon flight

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The Independent Online

Vijaypat Singhania, a 67-year-old Indian millionaire, claimed to have broken the world record yesterday for the highest flight in a hot air balloon on reaching 69,852 feet. The previous world record, 64,997 feet, was set by Per Lindstrand of Sweden in Texas in June 1988.

Colin Prescott, one of the two British designers of the 40-ton balloon, admitted the record could not be verified immediately. Sealed instruments - an altimeter, a global positioning system unit and a barograph - would be sent to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale inSwitzerland for certification. "It may take a month," he said.

Mr Singhania, chairman of the Raymond Group textile company, lifted off from Bombay at 6.45am, enclosed in a cabin suspended from the 160ft-high balloon. He landed near Panchale, a village in Maharashtra state, then offered prayers at a Hindu shrine.

"When I broke the record ... I screamed quite loudly," he said. "This goes to show to the world that we are not bullock cart drivers."