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Up, up, and away! Indian tycoon soars to record

An Indian textile millionaire apparently broke the world record Saturday for the highest flight in a hot air balloon.
People watch as Indian millionaire Vijaypat Singhania begins his record-setting hot-air balloon flight on Saturday in Bombay, India.Rajesh Nirgude / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

An Indian textile millionaire apparently broke the world record Saturday for the highest flight in a hot air balloon.

The record by Vijaypat Singhania is subject to verification, but his son Gautam Singhania said the 44-ton balloon climbed nearly 70,000 feet, beating the old mark of just under 65,000 feet.

“This goes to show to the world that we are not bullock cart drivers, but we can compete against the best of the world,” the balloonist said.

One of the balloon’s designers said the height will be determined by instruments sealed inside the capsule. Once verified by aeronautical groups, the findings will be submitted to Guinness World Records.

The 67-year-old balloonist landed safely after a nearly five-hour flight inside a pressurized cabin suspended from the 160-foot-high, multicolored balloon.

The flight was carried live on Indian national television.

“The exact height reached was 69,852 feet. This is subject to certification,” said Colin Prescott, one of two British designers of the balloon.

The previous world record was 64,997 feet, set by Sweden’s Per Lindstrand in Plano, Texas, in June 1988.

Hundreds of jubilant villagers crowded around the balloon to congratulate Singhania.

“When I broke the record, I was euphoric. I screamed quite loudly,” he said.

Indian millionaire Vijaypat Singhania toasts after landing his hot air balloon in Bombay, India, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005. Singhania, 67, on Saturday broke the world record for the highest flight in a hot air balloon, reaching the fringe of outer space. (AP Photo/Rajesh Nirgude)Rajesh Nirgude / AP

Singhania lifted off from downtown Bombay and landed safely on barren land near Panchale, a village about 150 miles south of Bombay.

Singhania, the chairman emeritus of the Raymond Group, one of India’s leading textile companies, also set a record for ultralight aviation 17 years ago when he flew 6,000 miles from Britain to India in 23 days.