Friday, May 19, 2006

Michael Palin 1943-

Michael Edward Palin, CBE was born 5th May 1943. He is an English comedian,actor,writer and televison presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries.

Benedict Allen 1960-

Benedict Colin Allen is a British traveller. He is best known for his survival modus operandi: tapping into local, indigenous knowledge above reliance on modern inventions. His approach is to present himself as ready to learn, like an infant; the communities that he visits take him under their wing, equipping him with the necessary skills. It is not always the adults but sometimes the children that ‘adopt’ and teach him. Allen prefers to travel alone and, within exploration, spearheaded the video diary documentary format for filming his solo journeys.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes 1944-

Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes was born in 1944 and educated at Eton. He served with the Royal Scots Greys for a time before joining the SAS. In 1968 he joined the Army of the Sultan of Oman and in 1970 was awarded the Sultan's Bravery Medal. In the same year he married his wife, Virginia. (In 1987, Virginia was the first woman to be awarded the Polar Medal).
Since 1969 when he led the British Expedition on the White Nile, Ranulph Fiennes has been at the forefront of many exploratory expeditions.Described in 1984 as the "World's Greatest Living Explorer" by the Guinness Book of Records, his expeditions around the world include:
Transglobe (the first surface journey around the world's polar axis) 1979/1982, during which Ranulph Fiennes and Charles Burton became the first people ever to reach both poles by surface travel.
North Polar Unsupported Expedition (furthest north unsupported record) 1986.
Anglo Soviet North Pole Expedition 1990/91.
Co-leader of the Ubar Expedition (which in 1991 discovered Ptolemy's long-lost Atlantis of the Sands, the frankincense centre of the world).
Leader of the Pentland South Pole Expedition (which achieved the first unsupported crossing of the Antarctic Continent and the longest unsupported polar journey in history) 1992/1993.
He has been awarded an honorary degree from Loughborough University, the University of Central England in Birmingham and the University of Portsmouth. The Royal Geographic Society awarded him with a Livingstone's Gold Medal in 1983 and a Founder's Medal in 1984. The Explorers Club of New York awarded Sir Ranulph with a Gold Medal and Honorary Life Membership in 1983. In 1997, The Royal Institute of Navigation awarded him Honorary Membership. In 2000 The Explorers Club, British Chapter, honoured Sir Ranulph with the Polar Exploration Millennium Award.
Sir Ranulph's expeditions have raised over £4.2 million for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, (which has enabled the building of Europe's first MS research centre in Cambridge) and £1.9 million for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. In 1993 he was awarded an OBE for 'human endeavour and charitable services'.
Sir Ranulph is also the author of several books including his autobiography Living Dangerously, The Feather Men (UK Number One Best-seller), Atlantis of the Sands, Mind Over Matter (a harrowing account of his Antarctic expedition), The Sett, Beyond the Limits and his most recent The Secret Hunters.
In 1995 Her Majesty the Queen was graciously pleased to award Sir Ranulph a second clasp to the Polar Medal that he already has, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in Polar exploration and, in particular, his attempts to reach the North Pole between 1988 and 1990 and his successful trek across Antarctica in 1992/93. (No-one else has a double clasp medal each of which acknowledges both Arctic and Antarctic achievements).

Sir Chris Bonnington 1934-

One of the most successful mountaineering expedition leaders ever.
He led the 1975 British Everest Expedition to success when, on the 24th of September, Doug Scott & Dougal Haston reached the summit.

Sir Richard Branson 1950-

Richard Branson was born in 1950 and educated at Stowe School. It was here that he began to set up Student Magazine when he was just 16. By 17 he'd also set up Student Advisory Centre, which was a charity to help young people.
In 1970 he founded Virgin as a mail order record retailer, and not long after he opened a record shop in Oxford Street, London. During 1972 a recording studio was built in Oxfordshire, and the first Virgin artist, Mike Oldfield, recorded "Tubular Bells" which was released in 1973.
This album went on to sell over 5 million copies! Since then many household names, including Belinda Carlisle, Genesis, Phil Collins, Janet Jackson and The Rolling Stones have helped to make Virgin Music one of the top six record companies in the world. The equity of Virgin Music Group - record labels, music publishing, and recording studios was sold to THORN EMI in 1992 in a US$1billion deal.
The Virgin Group has now expanded into international music Megastores, air travel, mobile, financial, retail, music, internet, drinks, rail, hotels and leisure, with around 200 companies in over 30 countries.

And to keep his adrenaline levels high, Richard Branson has been involved in a number of world record-breaking attempts since 1985. In 1986 his boat, "Virgin Atlantic Challenger II" rekindled the spirit of the Blue Riband by crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the fastest ever recorded time. This was followed a year later by the epic hot air balloon crossing of the same ocean in "Virgin Atlantic Flyer". This was not only the first hot-air balloon to cross the Atlantic, but was the largest ever flown at 2.3 million cubic feet capacity, reaching speeds in excess of 130 miles per hour (209 k/ph).
Still after the ultimate adventure, in January 1991 Richard crossed the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Arctic Canada, the furthest distance of 6,700 miles. Again, he broke all existing records, with speeds of up to 245 miles -per hour in a balloon of 2.6 million cubic feet.


Per Lindstrand 1948-

Per Lindstrand is a Swedish aeronautical engineer, pilot and adventurer. He is particularly known for his series of record-breaking trans-oceanic hot air balloon flights and, later, attempts to be the first to fly a Rozière balloon around the Earth - all with British entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson.

Lindstrand not only flies balloons, but many other aircraft as well, and holds an airline transport pilot's licence for single and multi-engined land and sea aeroplanes and helicopters, and a commercial pilot's licence for auto-gyros, airships and gliders. His long standing dream to make a flight around the world in a hot air balloon (as opposed to a Rozière or gas balloon which requires no constant source of heated air) still remains unrealized. His distance, duration and altitude records have made him one of the best known balloonists and aerostat designers and engineers in the world.