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November 19, 2005 Home | Sports | Gallery

Conquering the skies

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Vijaypat Singhania, chairman emeritus of the Raymond group, will attempt to take hot air ballooning to new heights on November 26. The Indian clothing magnate will pilot a hot air balloon to 70,000 feet above sea level (above 21,000 meters) from Mumbai in a bid to break the existing world record set by Per Lindstrand. The latter achieved it way back in June, 1988, in Texas, reaching a height of 64,997 feet (19,811 metres).

As part of his extensive planning, Singhania began learning ballooning in January 2005 in Mondovi, Italy. After passing the CAA license examinations for all ground subjects and flying, he set about gaining experience and acquiring specialized knowledge from the best in the field.

He also undertook practice flying sessions in Palghar, near Mumbai, followed by another series of flights in Jalgaon and Mount Abu before the monsoon set in. Recently, he tested intensively at Sinnar district, near Shirdi.

In the interim, on June 13, 2005, he established the Indian altitude record of flying in a hot air balloon to a height of 28,200 ft from a village west of Ahmedabad. This, in spite of the scorching heat. When not flying, he has been evaluating and testing his equipment, specially designed for this purpose. He also follows a strict health regime and has lost a lot of weight to make himself physically fit.

Some of the images from the 67-year-old aviator's preparations for the big day:

Also read: Singhania set for balloon odyssey

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