How Richard Branson Almost died Multiple Times from Multiple Stupidities

Richard Branson has a gift for diversification that has made him a billionaire. And, he's knowledgeable about aerospace. But maybe he's a sort of idiot savant. His second autobiography, "Finding My Virginity," has an a section called "75 Close Shaves," --instances in which he almost died. Many of them, the ones we'll mention here, were cases of sheer stupidity. . . (I have my suspicions. He's known to "like his drink" as they say in the UK.) All these are real:

"1976: Flew a microlight aircraft by mistake. It was the first time I'd sat in it, I had no idea how to fly it and accidentally took off. I was pulling wires out desperately. I cut the engine and managed to crash-land into a field. My instructor died in an accident the next day."... Accidentally took off, Richard?

"1980 -- I stubbed my toe while walking around Necker Island and suddenly fell down a gaping gorge. I managed to get my hand to the other side, and Steve Barron managed to rescue me, pulling me up before I fell to what would have been certain death on the jagged rocks below." ...Suddenly fell down a gaping gorge, Richard?

"1986 -- On my first time skydiving, there was one cord that opened the parachute and one that got rid of it. I pulled the wrong cord by mistake. I was falling through the air before an instructor managed to yank my spare ripcord." ...Pulled the wrong cord by mistake, Richard?

"1987 -- On our attempt to cross the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon, the balloon's solar heating was too good and we headed up, up and up with seemingly no way to stop it. My co-pilot Per managed to bring the balloon down just before the capsule imploded and we tumbled to our deaths." ...Solar heating too good, Richard? No way to stop it, Richard? So you geniuses didn't think to test how much the solar heating added to the heat uplift of the bloody balloon and a way to shut it safely down--before heading across the bloody Atlantic?

"1989 -- I decided to make an entrance to my wedding with Joan, dangling from a helicopter in an all-white suit. I dropped into the shallow end of the pool by mistake, smashed my legs, and spent the whole wedding hobbling." ...Dropped into the shallow end of the pool by mistake, Richard? No sense making sure which end was which? Was there some good whiskey in the helicopter?

"1991 -- In a hot air balloon saw it catch fire at 30,000 feet. We managed to extinguish the fire before the balloon was destroyed. On the same balloon flight, we lost half our fuel when full tanks dropped as we jettisoned empty fuel. We thought we would run out of fuel halfway across the Pacific, before strong winds in the jet stream saved us." ...Full tanks dropped as we jettisoned empty fuel, Richard? Clearly you accidentally jettisoned those full tanks while jettisoning the others. You know. As one does.

"2004 -- Agreed to do a bungee jump off Victoria Falls as part of my TV show 'The Rebel Billionaire.' As I fell through the air I clipped my head on something and came back up with blood streaming down my face." ...A bungee jump off Victoria Falls, Richard? You AGREED to that?!

"2007 -- [Bungie] Jumped off Palms Casino in Las Vegas as we announced Virgin America's new route to the city. After initially refusing to do the jump, I reconsidered and plunged down the building at high speed in strong winds. I smashed painfully hard into the buildings. Fortunately I hadn't spun around, so my backside hit the wall rather than my head. It completely ripped the back of my trousers off, cut my legs and arm open and badly bruised my hand." ...He almost had a moment of sanity, and wisdom, by initially refusing to jump off a high casino building. But then...Reconsidered and plunged down the building at high speed in strong winds, Richard? Yes he did. And here's a real photo of it.

Founder of the Virgin Group Richard Branson stunts off The Palms Fantasy Tower at The Palms Casino Resort on October 10, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Is Richard Branson the Inspector Clouseau of billionaires?