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December 9, 1997: Branson loses balloon

Today in History: December 9, 1997: Branson loses balloon

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Richard Branson's balloon slips away from the take off sight. - Gulf News Archives
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Branson loses balloon

1997 - The balloon of British tycoon Richard Branson broke its moorings hours before a planned takeoff, blowing away his latest bid to be the first to fly around the world non-stop by balloon. The balloon came to rest in the Atlas mountains near the town of Ouarzazate, sources said. But troops pursuing it failed to gain control of the balloon before a gust of wind sent it floating away again. The balloon is now only partly inflated. Branson said the 32,000-cubic metre balloon had flown unmanned over Morocco’s southern Ouarzazate province and latest calculations indicated it had crossed into Algeria. He told reporters at the air base near Marrakesh, from which the balloon soared away: “Now we are in discussion with the Algerian authorities to recover the balloon.”

December 9

1892 - The premiere of George Bernard Shaw’s first play Widowers’ Houses is held at the Royalty Theatre in Soho, London.

1913 - Gaston Doumergue becomes Prime Minister of France.

1946 - Indian Constituent Assembly is boycotted by Muslim League.

1971 - UAE joins the United Nations.

1972 - North Vietnam and Soviet Union conclude an agreement for making economic and military aid available to Hanoi.

1974 - Nelson Rockefeller becomes Vice-President of the United States.

1979 - Dubai’s first multi-storey municipal car park is inaugurated in Deira.

1981 - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky restore relations at a mini-summit in Abu Dhabi.

1985 - Former Argentine president Jorge Videla is sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the war against Communist guerrillas.

1987 - Microsoft releases its Windows 2.0 graphics operating environment.

1990 - Poles elect Solidarity labour union founder Lech Walesa as President.

1992 - Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Britain announce their separation, but have no plans to divorce.

1994 - At least 310 people, mostly children, die in a blaze while watching a cultural show at a cinema in China.

1997 - Spain softens its long-standing claim on the British colony of Gibraltar, saying it can accept shared sovereignty.

2002 - United Airlines in the US files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

2005 - World’s largest Islamic bond worth $2.8 billion (Dh10.29 billion) is issued for Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation.

2006 - US Congress gives its final approval to landmark legislation allowing exports of civilian nuclear fuel and technology to India for the first time in 30 years.

2011 - At least 89 people are killed when an early-morning fire guts AMRI Hospital in Kolkata, India.

2015 - Sharjah becomes the world’s first baby-friendly city.

2016 - South Korean lawmakers impeach President Park Geun-hye, over a corruption scandal.