Virgin Celebrates 100 Years of Flight

Virgin Atlantic is proud to announce a series of initiatives for 2003 to commemorate 100 Years of Flight. The centenary on 17 December 2003 marks the Wright brothers’ first successful sustained, controlled flight in a powered aircraft.
The most quirky and unconventional project planned for the celebration is Virgin Atlantic’s sponsorship of the annual ‘Bognor Birdman’ event in August. This infamous competition challenges individuals to achieve human powered flight from the end of the pier in Bognor Regis, where competitors aim for the coast of France although they traditionally land in the English Channel - with the furthest distance achieved to date standing at 89.2m.

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic, commented:

“Virgin Atlantic is proud to commemorate 100 Years of Flight by marking the anniversary with events throughout 2003. 17 December 1903 is a significant date for the aviation industry and should be celebrated worldwide.

“The Bognor Birdman is an internationally recognised event which celebrates our desire to fly as well as our limited ability to do so without power! It also showcases some of the most unusual ways to take flight.

“The centenary of the first powered flight would be an ideal time to break Bognor’s own target of 100 metres of human powered flight. Who knows, I might even have a go myself!”


John Stride, Chairman of the International Bognor Birdman Steering Group at Arun District Council commented:

“We are delighted that Virgin Atlantic will be supporting this event which increases in popularity every year. We are looking forward to seeing if the ‘Virgin Atlantic International Bognor Birdman 2003’ will produce a contender that achieves 100m human powered flight to take home the £25,000 prize and two free Upper Class return tickets with Virgin Atlantic.”

Virgin Atlantic’s series of 100 Years of Flight initiatives will include:

á Competitions and promotions in the national press á Campaigns and promotions to travel agents á Aviation-themed events throughout the year á Celebrations on the centenary day onboard aircraft and inside the terminals at both Gatwick and Heathrow

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic commented:

“Aviation has come a long way since that historic flight and Virgin Atlantic constantly strives to be at the forefront of modern technology and design with innovations such as Drive Thru check ins, onboard bars and inflight beauty therapy. We are also proud to be flying the Airbus A340-600 - the newest and longest plane in the world.

“We also look forward to pushing the boundaries further in the near future with new products and services and the introduction of the Airbus A380 from 2006. Who knows where aviation technology will take us in the next hundred years?”