With a single A-level to his name, Richard Branson created his first magazine as a teenager in the 1960s with £300, starting from a basement. Given these humble beginnings, he was perhaps an unlikely publisher – dyslexia hampered his education. His headmaster told him he would either end up being a millionaire or in prison.
When Branson the student needed money, he launched a mail-order business – and Virgin Records was born. A shop opened in London’s Oxford Street by 1971, followed by the launch the following year of the Virgin Records label. By 23, Branson was a millionaire.
© den-belitsky / Adobe Stock
In 1984, Virgin Atlantic Airways was established, taking on British Airways in a famous corporate rivalry. Branson had the idea on a trip to Puerto Rico, when a cancelled flight left him deciding to charter his own aeroplane, on which he offered his fellow stranded passengers the remaining seats in return for a fee.
Discussing the decision to set up his own airline in his autobiography Losing My Virginity, Branson wrote: “My interest… comes from setting myself huge challenges and trying to rise above them… From the perspective of wanting to live life to the full, I felt I had to attempt it.”
In 1993, Branson took what many believed to be one of his riskier business ventures by establishing Virgin Trains, which took on the franchises for what were previously British Rail’s InterCity West Coast and Cross-Country lines. During its ownership of the franchise, it doubled passenger numbers and became one of Britain’s best-known rail brands thanks to its quirky marketing campaigns.
Branson made history in 1986 with the Virgin Atlantic Challenger II speedboat, which crossed the Atlantic in record time. Branson’s balloon, Virgin Atlantic Flyer, also crossed the Atlantic.
This long personal history of wanting to be faster and earlier than anyone else led Branson to founding Virgin Galactic in 2004 – his spaceflight operation. It aims to offer suborbital spaceflights for space tourists alongside suborbital launches for space science missions. Virgin Galactic also plans to run orbital human spaceflights.
While Virgin Galactic has been plagued by delays and technical and other hitches, including the crash in the Californian Mojave Desert in 2014 of SpaceShipTwo, testing resumed in 2016 and Branson hasn’t given up. Indeed, he and his family are committed to flying on the first Virgin Galactic flight.
Speaking to a UK newspaper in April 2017, he said he was hoping to enter space with a test fight before the year was out and to go into space himself, with the programme ‘well underway’ by the end of 2018.
We know many of you share Branson’s unquenchable thirst for adventures and travel. Psydro will help to take any uncertainty out of your future holidays. By leaving your reviews, wherever in the world you’ve been, you will be helping others who share your passion to make informed decisions.