He’s been dubbed the real-life Iron Man. Inventor Richard Browning takes his jet engine-powered suit out for spin. And records a personal best for flight time and speed – in excess of 30 miles-per-hour. SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD BROWNING, FOUNDER OF GRAVITY INDUSTRIES / JET-SUIT PILOT, SAYING: “We had this grand vision of could you approach the challenge of human flight in an entirely different way?; very much augmenting the human body rather than putting the human in a flight machine. And after many, many iterations we’ve got to a pretty awesome place.” It’s powered by six gas turbines, together delivering 800 horse-power. The fuel tank is stored on the back, with all the electronics on the chest. And underneath – lots of protection. SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD BROWNING, FOUNDER OF GRAVITY INDUSTRIES / JET-SUIT PILOT, SAYING: “It’s a fire-proof under-layer and then a lot of padding, because this journey has been all about falling over; not from very high but that’s how we’ve learnt and made such quick progress.” Despite the occasional mishap along the way, it’s surprisingly easy to control. SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD BROWNING, FOUNDER OF GRAVITY INDUSTRIES / JET-SUIT PILOT, SAYING: “It’s not taken very long for my brain to start to move and adjust my arms in a way that I’m not consciously aware of. So I now just think about where I want to go and it kind of happens; a bit like riding a bike in three dimensions.” A Royal marine reserve, Browning said he’s had interest in the suit from the military. He also sees its potential for search and rescue missions. For the time being, however, he’s just having fun. SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD BROWNING, FOUNDER OF GRAVITY INDUSTRIES / JET-SUIT PILOT, SAYING: “At the moment I liken it to a high-end jet ski. I mean, what’s the practical point of a jet ski? It’s questionable, right? It’s really about having a huge amount of fun, and this is a huge amount of fun and it’s an entirely different way of manoeuvring the human being around the sky.” Next steps include increasing fuel efficiency and flight time. Browning says he’ll be revealing a much more capable jet-suit model in the coming months.
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