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The Virgin Atlantic Airlines founder and billionaire adventurer celebrates the exploits of airborne daredevils—his own prominently among them—in this lively history of aviation pioneers. Branson ranges from the Montgolfier brothers' 1783 invention of the hot-air balloon to today's nascent space tourism industry—tickets on his Virgin Galactic space liner will run ,000—highlighting men and women who risked their money and lives to advance aerial technology or just put on a good show. It's a colorful assemblage of engineers, test pilots, barnstormers, and fighter aces; there are asphyxiated high-altitude balloonists, ultra-light enthusiasts who fly lawn chairs, and the "birdman" who jumped from an airplane wearing only wooden wings and glided safely to the ground. Into the soaring, crashing, and burning, Branson inserts his own extreme-ballooning adventures—"I opened the hatch, climbed out on top of the capsule, and hacked away at the cable with my knife"—and much interesting lore of aero-space design. Like everything the author does, the book is, in part, an advertisement ("Over the years, pioneered comfortable reclining seats"). Still, Branson's enthusiasm for avant-garde flight and his firsthand understanding of its rigors make this a rousing—sometimes even elevating—read. Photos. (Apr. 28)
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SIR RICHARD BRANSON is a hugely successful international entrepreneur, adventurer and icon, and is chairman of the Virgin Group. His autobiography, Losing My Virginity, and his books on business, Screw It, Let's Do It and Business Stripped Bare, are all international bestsellers. He lives on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands and is married with two grown-up children. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen, and Blasting into Space
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