Britain’s Iron Man: inventor takes flight in jet-powered suit
Richard Browning, the British inventor dubbed “Wiltshire’s Iron Man”, successfully demonstrated his personal flight suit on the shores of Vancouver harbour, with mini jet engines on his hands.
Inspired by the Marvel comic superhero Iron Man, Browning flew in a circle and hovered a short distance from the ground using thrusters attached to his arms and back, captivating attendees at the Vancouver TED conference.
“The hypothesis was that the human mind and body, if properly augmented, could achieve some pretty cool stuff,” said Browning, an extreme athlete and engineer, at the gathering where he was representing his flight-suit startup company, Gravity.
The personal flight suit, called Daedalus, is capable of propelling wearers much higher and faster than demonstrated on the day, according to Browning. He said he had experimented with various numbers and arrays of the engines on his limbs, with some more successful than others. The current suit is capable of flying for around 10 minutes.
“The whole journey was about trying and failing, and learning from that,” said Browning . “I don’t think anyone is going to be going down to Walmart with it or taking anybody to school for quite a while, but the team at his Gravity is moving it along.”
A video of Browning’s first reasonably stable, six-second flight in Daedalus has logged more than million views since being posted on YouTube in March. The company has posted various videos showing flights and adjustments to the gear throughout the testing process.
A flight suit that could carry a wearer from the beach along the coast and into a mid-air helicopter for further journeys are a while away, said Browning, but the firm has already received interest from investors including some from those in the British military. They told him they had given up on the flight feature of an Iron Man-style suit until seeing his human-propulsion gear.
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