Friday, November 25, 2005

Enterprise and Flying Adventure

It is just co-incidental that I came across, in a matter of 2 days, three different (and separated in time from each other) instances of very enterprising and successful men having a penchant for attempting daring record making (or record breaking) feats.

First, I happened to watch Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Howard Hughes. Hughes, a locally famous moniker for a telecommunication software company, was a first generation entrepreneur, who ventured into several diverse ventures, from movies to computer networks. Hughes, among other things got extremely interested in flying (and building) planes. If the depiction in the movie is accurate, Hughes would fly every first model himself (and risk his own life) and make records in the process. He also built (and defended against the monopolistic giant, Pan Am) a cross-Atlantic airline TWA. Interesting note: Hughes, a school dropout, started his career as a movie producer.

Second, History Channel was running the biography of Sir Richard Branson. He too founded, a cross-Atlantic airline, Virgin Atlantic, after running a successful records company, Virgin Records. Branson is also an acclaimed adventurer, especially flying related adventure. In order to garner publicity for the new airline (with only one second-hand 747), Branson set out to break the then existing record for a sea-cruise across the Atlantic, with the Voyager mission. The mission was a failure, but not big enough to daunt Branson. He did end up breaking the record in the sequel to the mission, called Voyager 2. Continuing risking his own life (again for the purpose of publicity for his airline), and satiating his desire for adventure, he undertook record-making, and almost always ending up in a potentially fatal disaster, hot-air balloon trips across the Atlantic, across the Pacific, and across the world! In one of the trips, his balloon shot up suddenly to a height of 42,000 Ft, in another lost 3 cylinder full of gas, blew away and crash-landed in Algerian desert in another, and landed in the Pacific in yet another. But nothing would daunt the enterprising spirit. Interesting note: Branson started his career with a record shop (again, not as a pilot, and just like Hughes, fought against and survived British Airways' 'Dirty Tricks' campaign). Still more interesting, Branson blogs at BransonBlog!

Third, CNBC ran a small before-the-event feature on "Singhania's daring attempt". Dr. Vijaypat Singhania, Chairman Emeritus of the Raymond Group, is a well-recognized proponent of aviation related adventure. Singhania holds the solo aviation related Guinness Book of World Records record for solo flight in a microlight aircraft from London to Ahmedabad in 1988. He's again attempting (also here and here) to break a world record today, by flying to 70,000 Ft in a balloon (the size of a 30-storey building). He's got 5,000 hours of flying experience, among other aviation related feats, and is an honorary Air Commodore of the Indian Air Force, and a WW II war-bird owner. Interesting note: He financed a flop Hindi movie!

"The sky is the limit", must be the most cliched inspiring thought in any form and scale of enterprise. Guess, some take it more seriously!

Update: Vijaypat Singhania creates hot-air balloon record. He did it!


Nikhilesh Ghushe said...

JRD Tata also holds the record for being the first Indian Civilian to have a Flying License:

Kanishk | कनिष्क said...

It is just another lame fact that most people who have made big by being first-generation enterpreneurs are school drop-outs and I am unemployed with an advanced engineering degree.