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Donald (Don) Allan Cameron


1939 -

Balloon designer, entrepreneur and adventurer. Born in Glasgow, Cameron was educated at Allan Glen's School and studied engineering at the University of Glasgow and Cornell University (USA). In 1963, he took a job with the Bristol Aeroplane Company but, as a hobby, helped design the first modern hot-air balloon in Europe, the Bristol Belle, and in 1968 gained the first-ever balloon pilot's licence. The following year, he started his own company, Cameron Balloons, in the basement of his home. Today, he presides over the world's largest manufacturer of balloons. He has advanced the technology of these vehicles and their flight to the highest level; his balloons have achieved all manner of size, distance and duration records over the years. Cameron designed the Breitling Orbiters to circumnavigate the globe and on the third attempt, in 1999, this unique feat was achieved, covering a distance of 25,360 miles (40,813 km) in 477 hours and 47 minutes, the longest un-refuelled aircraft flight in history. He also pioneered novelty-shaped balloons, including Mickey Mouse, Rupert Bear, a bust of Beethoven, a pair of Levi's jeans and the Robertson marmalade mascot.

His ballooning successes include the first crossing the Sahara (1971), of the Alps (1972) and between Britain and the former USSR (1990). In 1978 his first attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean failed due to bad weather but his second attempt, in 1992, took Cameron from Bangor (Maine) to Portugal.

His achievements have been recognised through the award of Bronze, Silver and Gold Medals by the Royal Aeronautical Club, together with a Queens Award for Export Achievement (1989), the Harmon Trophy (1999) and the Prince Philip Engineering Design Award (2000).

Cameron has taken part in several television documentaries, including a project to recreate the world's first airship, originally built by Jean-Baptiste Marie Meusnier, a French General, in 1789.


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