Feats: Decades of setting records (or failing spectacularly) in the air and on the sea, to say nothing of reinventing the airline business. In 2004, he set the record for fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle. Later that year, he launched Virgin Galactic to shoot paying clients into suborbit; he says he’ll be on the first flight.
His (most) near-death experience: Between 1995 and 1998, Branson launched more than four attempts to fly around the world in a balloon. During one trip with Steve Fossett, they made emergency diplomatic pleas to avoid being shot down in Chinese airspace.
The adventurers he admires the most: “I have a good friend, Nick Jacobsen, who is the best kitesurfer in the world, and just jumped off the tallest building in the world, in Dubai. There’s also a Russian balloonist who invited me on a trip to go higher than anyone’s ever been in a balloon. Sadly, for the first time in my life, I had to say no. I’m all in on exploring space travel — for me, that’s the final frontier. Making sure that, for all of us, the sky’s no longer the limit.”
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