‘Flying Submarine’ Richard Branson’s Newest Aquatic Adventure

Adventure enthusiast and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson unveiled his “flying submarine” April 5 in Newport Beach, Calif., as part of his new Virgin Oceanic endeavor. The one-man submarine may have wings, but it does not actually fly. The British billionaire intends to pilot the sub on the second of its five journeys to record-breaking depths–the aquatic vehicle is capable of diving seven miles below the ocean’s surface. Branson will dive 28,232 feet into the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean: the Puerto Rico Trench.

Branson’s businesses spread eco-awareness

In a statement, Branson said Virgin Oceanic would use the sub to “assist science in understanding our eco system and raise awareness of the challenges facing our Oceans.”

It turns out the multifaceted mogul was not done revealing eco-friendly news or record breaking intent for the week. At a San Francisco airport press conference held on April 6, Branson revealed Virgin America’s new energy-efficient terminal. The $383 million design features low flow faucets, using 40 percent less water than most airport restrooms, and displacement ventilation, which uses 20 percent less power than ordinary air ventilation. Designers expect the newly greened terminal to be the first in the United States granted the Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification.

Branson’s record-breaking aquatic vehicle history

The entrepreneur hopes his “flying submarine” will break over 30 Guinness world records with its five dives into the lowest points of five oceans. If this occurs, it won’t exactly be Branson’s first record-buster, not even in a commissioned amphibious vehicle. In 2004, he broke the world record for fastest crossing of the English Channel in a car-boat. He made the journey in just under two hours in an innovative Gibbs Aquada built specifically for the crossing.

Previously, Branson had beaten the world record for fastest crossing of the Atlantic in 1986. The feat took three days, resulting in shaving over two hours off the previous record holder’s time.

Hands-off management allows innovation, adventure

Since the early days of his first companies, Branson has prioritized making time for his adventures and innovative ideas. This is in large part due to giving managers the space to operate companies as if they owned them. He credits this management philosophy for the success of his many companies.

This hands-off approach allowed him time to branch Virgin Group out beyond music and airlines. Branson has expanded his interests into diverse sectors, such as mobile phones; trains; stem cell banks; space tourism; and, now, ocean exploration.