An iconic Virgin hot air balloon is appearing at the Virgin Media V Festival for the first time this weekend, 25 years after Sir Richard Branson’s record-breaking transatlantic flight.

Virgin has been synonymous with ballooning since founder Sir Richard Branson and co-pilot Per Lindstrand were the first to fly across the Atlantic in a balloon in July 1987.

Their huge balloon travelled 3,000 miles from Maine, USA, to Ireland in 32 hours, reaching speeds of 130 miles per hour.

Two and a half decades on Virgin Balloon Flights is the UK’s leading balloon rides provider and will be tethering a balloon at the festival’s Essex site in Hylands Park, Chelmsford, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (August 18 and 19).

It will be the debut display of a Virgin balloon at the festival which started in 1996 and this year features performances from the Killers, the Stone Roses and Snow Patrol.

Weather permitting, VIP guests from Virgin Media’s Louder Lounge will be offered complimentary rides in the 75ft tall balloon giving them a unique experience and an alternative perspective of the site.

Kevin Meehan, Virgin Balloon Flights’ pilot for VFestival, is one of the UK’s most experienced balloonists and assisted with Sir Richard’s later global record attempts.

He said: “Sir Richard and Per Lindstrand’s transatlantic flight was incredible and forged the way for a number of ballooning records including their Pacific crossing in 1991. We’re delighted to be at VFestival for the first time 25 years on. Both music and ballooning are at the heart of Virgin’s rich heritage, so we love bringing them together and have hosted several gigs in balloons over the years. “A tethered balloon ride is a good taster for what an actual flight is like and we’re looking forward to welcoming special guests aboard, providing the weather is on our side,” he added.

Virgin Balloon Flights fly from over 100 locations across mainland Britain. For more information visit or for the latest news, offers and competitions like us on Facebook.