UK inventor Richard Browning has taken a leaf out of Iron Man Tony Stark’s book and created his very own jet-powered suit. Powered by six mini jet engines, the invention has set Browning back £40,000 in total but who can put a price on the gift of flight?
When Browning decided to tackle the issue of human-powered flight, he knew that it would be a tough task. It took him months to create a jet engine suit that he could attach to his body before he could embark on the first lift-off that only saw him hover a mere half a meter above the ground. Nevertheless, his spirits weren’t dampened: “That was the very first moment we properly proved this would work,” he said. “That was it. You could get away with it.”
Now, nine months after the test flight, Browning has updated his suit into an exoskeleton attached to six gas turbines that have a combined thrust of 130 kilograms. His flights can now last up to 12 minutes which may not be enough time to save the world, but it’s still an impressive feat. Browning told WIRED that he hopes “one day you’ll literally be able to walk around in your garden, take off, fly about, then come down low and land.”
To begin, Browning starts his engines and directs his movement with small shifts of his body. The turbines that he wears on his back are positioned to give him balance whereas the two on each arm angle forward to create what he calls “a teepee of thrust vectors” that allow him to push away from the ground. In true superhero style, to move forward he must set his arms back and flaring his arms out pushes him down. For more speed, he has to pull his arms in and push his chest out.
The suit is estimated to be able to travel to up to 450 kilometers an hour although it has not been tested at full capacity yet but Browning states that it is constantly improving. The latest addition to the suit (which Browning has dubbed Deadelus) is a heads-up display that was supplied by Sony. So far, with this holographic lens, he can monitor his fuel levels but his plans for the future of the suit include features such as 3D-printed titanium arm mounts and flexible LCD screens that would make it invisible. Of course, not everyone would be able to control the suit as well as Browning can. There is an element of human ability involved too, and to accurately control the suit he must keep up with gymnastic exercises and run ultra- marathons to keep himself in shape.
Browning is developing a business around the suit named Project Gravity and he has a space at Olympic Park to build what he’s dubbed a “Tony Stark lab, garage thing” to carry out flight-training.