Meet the Real Iron Man – Richard Browning

by jadams

Travel & Play

What’s the most luxurious thing you could purchase? You might be poised to say Ferrari or a Penthouse in Paris, but those are blown out of the water if you considered, “A real-life super power.”

What’s it like to fly? How much is that feeling worth? Not flying in a plane or a helicopter, but just in your own body, weightless and moving through the clouds …

It’s a question people have been asking for centuries and if Iron Man’s movie franchise is any indication, we are all totally fascinated by the feat.

Enter Richard Browning––the real-life Tony Stark. He’s created the Jet Suit by Gravity Industries––the world’s first and only flying suit, and he’s giving the No. 1 super power a reality for those with the budget.

Richard Browing, Photo by Andy Weekes

We’ve got a deal on Vices Reserve for your own personal moment in the sky. You can sign up for Browning’s two-day pilot training classes with his Gravity Jet Suit, and if you log a certifiable number of hours, you can even buy one at Member Pricing. They normally start at $440,000. And they are truly the most luxury item on the market, anywhere.

We will pause while you freak out in your mind for a moment. Superhero powers are real? Yes. Yes, they are.

How It Works

The Gravity Jet Suit has a propulsion of 1,050 horsepower. To give you an idea, that’s the power of nearly two Indy 500 cars. You strap on a series of cables and wires, exotic looking black gear made of metal and non-flammable tubing. The suit weighs 100 pounds, but once you activate the thrusters, you’re weightless.

Browning is a former British Royal Marine and an oil trader. He’s consistently working with this system on state-of-the-art updates, and currently, it’s propelled by two, mini jet engines on each forearm, with a larger jet pack against your back.

Richard Browning sets the Guinness World Record for ‘the fastest speed in a body-controlled jet engine power suit at Lagoona Park in Reading, England, Photo by Tim Ireland

You might be wondering, isn’t it dangerous, having jet fuel on your back?

Less so than riding a motorcycle, actually, according to Browning. Jet fuel is not as flammable as regular, unleaded gasoline. On a motorcycle, you’re driving with several gallons of that between your legs and a thousand other motorists around you. Here, you’re safe, standing on a platform, tethered to specialized crane. You wear protective, non-flammable clothing, should something go wrong, but that event is highly unlikely.

Most people need ample lessons before they get the hang of it, but this truly might be the coolest learning curves on Earth.

We sat down with Browning to discuss his pack and what it feels like to actually like to have “lift off.” To actually be Iron Man for an afternoon.

What’s it like the first time you try it?

The first time, you basically clip in, slide your arms into the arm assemblies, and you get tethered up on a system. Then you depress a kill switch, the lights start flashing on your chest and then you feel this little click as all five engines start to accelerate. They spin up electrically. Then the fuel is injected. You hear this sort of blowtorch burning sound, and you see fire kicking out the engines. You hear this screaming acceleration sound, as the engines accelerate to about 30,000 RPM. You will feel this rumble of power around you. You splay your arms to your side, and you squeeze the trigger. This is when it goes from about 30,000 to about 120,000 RPM.

By then, the sound is louder than a 747 taking off to everyone around you, but to you, it’s calm. As you gently lift off the ground, it’s like a dream. You can move anywhere you want, really. It’s the most liberating feeling there is.

Is there anything else like this on the market? Anyone else making something similar?

I think we are the most-raw form of human flight there is. Free fall is quieter, but you aren’t really flying. In hang gliding, you have a large thing on your back. With our suit, you can fly quickly, you can slow down, and you can land in gusting winds, at night, on something the size of a dinner plate. It’s that accurate.

What’s the highest and the fastest you’ve gone in the suit?

The highest I’ve gone is about 80 to 100 feet, or so, over water. It occurred to us that the higher you go, the more dangerous it is and you’re further from an audience. There’s really no need, but technically we can.

And, the fastest is 55mph. it has potential to go faster but we are easing into this.

What’s next?

Our main focus right now isn’t actually selling these. We want to build an international race series. We want people from previous sporting backgrounds to learn the system and then to race in iconic water locations all over the world.

We are also hopefully inspiring a whole new generation to go down a seemingly impossible path and come out having learned a lot from failure. That’s our motto around here. We want to inspire others with something that’s not supposed to be possible. We made it possible.


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