balloons out of control, by Anonymous - 13th December
Morocco (AP) -- The huge white balloon Richard
Branson hoped would take him to a world record
tore away by itself in a strong gust of wind Tuesday
-- leaving him and his dreams behind on the ground.
was the second major disappointment for the Virgin
Atlantic Airways tycoon, who earlier this year
launched a similar high-tech effort to become
the first man to fly a balloon non-stop around
the world --
only to find himself back on the ground in less
than 24 hours.
dressed in a green flying suit, was still packing
for the journey as technicians were inflating
the balloon at a military air base outside Marrakech.
mixed with shock as he watched his $400,000, 160-foot
hot air and helium masterpiece break free from
its passenger capsule and soar up over the Atlas
balloon, emblazoned with red Virgin logos and
called the Virgin Global Challenger, reached 18,000
feet. Earlier, as it floated across the border
into Algeria, authorities there promised to join
craft, which Branson said had been dropping at
1,500 feet a minute, then drifted back in Moroccan
millionaire adventurer said if the balloon is
not recovered, a new balloon could be made in
time to try again by mid-January.
the balloon that quickly could prove challenging.
Its panels are joined with more than four miles
of welds, and it takes eight hours to inflate.
Its cone is lined with a thin layer of special
aluminum and is designed to hold 1.1 million cubic
feet of helium. Because of the difficulties present
in trying to repair the damaged balloon, Branson
has come up with a daring idea he hopes will keep
his dream alive.
than construct a new balloon -- which would be
impossible to complete by early January, the adventurer
has decided to use one of WWF performer Sable
Mero's breasts as his new balloon.
believes the balloons on Sable's chest are the
best option available.
breasts are almost the same size as the damaged
balloon lost in Morrocco, and should one puncture,
she's got another one that can be used as a spare.
K. McMahon, President of the WWF, welcomed Branson's
suggestion and his company will now co-sponsor
Branson's round-the-world balloon travel. Scientists
at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory believe Sable's
massive jugs will provide just enough lift for
Branson to make it around the world.
of Branson's early-January trip will appear on
his website, and will also be chronicled each
week on WWF's Raw is War program on the USA Network.