Per Lindstrand was born in Sweden, but moved to Oswestry in Shropshire in 1978, where he has lived with his family ever since.
Per moved to set up Colt Balloons Ltd, a company which designed and manufactured hot-air balloons. At that time balloon manufacturing was still very much a cottage industry, and Per recognised that there was an opening in the market for a properly engineered product. Sweden's economy was booming in 1978, and England offered much lower cost structures for producing such labour-intensive products.
Colt Balloons' (later Thunder & Colt's Balloons) trademark was engineering excellence, and the company quickly became internationally recognised. Per's interest in extending the boundaries of lighter-than-air technology also saw him involved in world-record hot air balloon flight attempts. He is particularly well-known for the Atlantic crossing he made with Richard Branson in July 1987, which broke the world distance record of 900 miles, and extended it (by some 2,175 miles) to 3,075 miles. Per made a successful solo attempt to break the world altitude record in the following year, and flew his Stratoquest balloon to 65,000ft in Laredo, Texas, and bettered the old record by some 10,000ft.
In January 1991, the Pacific flyer balloon completed the longest flight in lighter-than-air history, when Per and Richard flew 6761 miles from Japan to northern Canada, setting new world records for both distance and duration. Seven years later, in December 1998, Per partnered Richard Branson and Steve Fossett in another attempt to cross the Pacific, and covered 20,000kms in 7 days in a Roziere balloon, which was launched from Morocco and landed in Hawaii.
In December 1991, Per founded Lindstrand Balloons Ltd, which in 2003 became Lindstrand Technologies Ltd. LTL is based in Oswestry and manufactures and repairs aerostats, airships and gas balloons, passenger-carrying tethered aerostats, and a whole host of cutting-edge fabric engineering products. In addition, LTL can provide consultancy, design, and manufacturing and management services for other special projects. LTL occupies a purpose-built 40,000ft2 factory, and employs over 40 people in a rapidly expanding business, all of whom have extensive experience with lighter-than-air products.
Per not only flies balloons, but all other types of aircraft as well, and he has an airline transport pilot's licence for single and multi-engine land and sea aeroplanes and helicopters, and a commercial pilot's licence for auto-gyros, airships and gliders. He received the Royal Aero Club's Gold Medal from Prince Andrew twice (in 1989 and 1991), and he was presented with the Royal Aeronautical Club's Britannica Trophy by Lord Brabazon in 1988. Per is also the recipient of the USA's most prestigious flying award - the Harmon Trophy - presented to him by Vice-President Dan Quayle in the White House. Per is also in the Guinness Hall of Fame.
In 1999, LTL (then LBL) in partnership with Daimler Chrysler Aerospace of Germany was awarded a design contract by the European Space Agency to develop a high altitude long endurance airship for possible use in the telecommunications market. As a result of this contract, and his 20 years experience of lighter-than-air technology, Per was awarded the German Korber prize for engineering excellence.
In 2002, LTL won the contract to design and manufacture the parachute for the next Marslander, Beagle 2. This was the most advanced parachute in the world, and it was delivered to ESA in December 2002. The Beagle 2 was launched in June 2003 and landed on Mars on Christmas Day.