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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005, 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK
Tycoon targets air balloon record
Vijaypat Singhania
Mr Singhania is a keen aviator
An Indian industrialist and adventurer has set himself a new challenge - to establish a new hot air balloon altitude record.

Textile magnate Vijaypat Singhania aims to fly to 70,000 feet (21,336 meters).

The existing record is held by balloonist Per Lindstrand who flew a hot air balloon to a height of 64,997 feet over Texas, USA, in 1988.

The record breaking attempt will take place in November in the western Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay).

Keen aviator

Mr Singhania, 66, will have to fly in a pressurised capsule in sub-zero temperatures to achieve a feat that he describes as MI 70K (Mission Impossible 70,000).

This flight is both dangerous and demanding
Vijaypat Singhania

The 1.6 million cubic feet capacity balloon, which is being built in UK, is as tall as a 30-storey-building, according to the organisers.

The flight could take up to five hours - three hours to go up, and two hours to come down.

Officials from Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), which ratifies aviation records, will be present.

At least 17 aviators have attempted to beat the existing high altitude hot air ballooning record set up Mr Lindstrand.

"Vijay is going for the biggest feat - this is the heavy weight championship of hot air ballooning," UK-based adventurer, Brian Milton, who is coordinating the flight told the BBC news site.

"He is India's Steve Fossett. He is doing this alone."

Earlier this month, Fossett, famed as a balloonist, also became the first man to fly a plane solo, non-stop around the globe, without refuelling.

Singhania has trained on this balloon in Italy for his flight

Mr Singhania says India's civil aviation ministry has cleared the project.

"The aviation industry shudders at adventure flights. I chose India because it is my home and I feel (it) needs to be on the world aviation map," he told journalists in Mumbai on Tuesday.

"This flight is both dangerous and demanding."

Mr Singhania, who heads the clothing company Raymond Ltd, has been a keen aviator for over four decades with more than 5,000 hours flying experience.

He undertook a solo flight in a micro light aircraft in 22 days from London to Ahmedabad in the western Indian state of Gujarat in 1988.

In the process, he broke the 34-day same route record of Mr Milton, who is now coordinating his upcoming balloon flight.

Mr Singhania is also only Indian to have won the aviation sports gold medal from the FAI for a 24-day world air race covering 34,000 kilometres in 1994.

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