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Daredevil Branson aims to be a high flyer again.

AIRLINE tycoon Sir Richard Branson shunned jets for the jetty yesterday as he took off on a daring solo flight.

Calling himself the Beardman of Bognor, Branson raised over pounds 57,000 for a children's hospice by launching himself off the town's famed pier. The charismatic Virgin founder couldn't resist a dig over Concorde's demise -he armed himself with an inflatable version of the supersonic jet on which the words read: ``BA can't keep it up but Virgin can.''

He then managed an 11- metre flight as he took off with the help of a steel band and carnival girls. The sometime balloonist wore an all-in-one silver costume with feathered wings.

The International Bognor Birdman competition challenges individuals to achieve human powered flight from the end of the pier in Bognor Regis,West Sussex.

Competitors aim for the coast of France although they generally end up in the English Channel. Branson went in the Kingfisher class - which rewards the most eccentric attempt.

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Sir Richard Branson sends a dummy of himself attached to concordeinto the sky Picture: GARETH FULLER
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 1, 2003
Words:180
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