Virgin Atlantic held its 25th anniversary party this week, starting with a press conference at its Terminal 3 Clubhouse lounge at London Heathrow, before a B747-400 flight aboard G-VFAB Lady Penelope to New York’s Newark airport.
The event aimed to recreate its first flight to New York, which departed on June 22, 1984. Celebrities on board included cricketer Kevin Pietersen and his wife, former Liberty X singer Jessica Taylor, as well as Ian Botham and Christopher Biggins, who was a passenger on the very first Virgin Atlantic flight 25 years ago.
As part of the celebrations, Sir Richard Branson was joined on the wing of the Boeing 747-400 Virgin Atlantic aircraft, named “Birthday Girl”, by Kate Moss, who personally came to wish the airline many happy returns.
The airline also received a special message from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who said: “I’m delighted to congratulate Virgin Atlantic on your 25th anniversary. Britain is rightly proud of having the world’s most innovative and competitive airlines. Virgin Atlantic and Richard Branson’s vision and pioneering spirit have changed the global airline business over the last 25 years. People can now afford to fly to places they previously only dreamed of.
"Aviation underpins our economic well-being. Virgin Atlantic is now also at the forefront of developing new technologies to meet the challenge of climate change. May this pioneering spirit continue throughout your second quarter century.”
The special birthday flight was under the command of Captain Geoff Andreasen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief Boeing pilot, and first officer Niamh O’Connor. The flight service manager operated the very first Virgin Atlantic flight in 1984, and Chris Morley, who has been with the airline for 25 years, led the team of 18 cabin crew.