By Adriana Navarro – Re-Blogged From AccuWeather
Within seconds, inventor Richard Browning, 40, knew he could defy gravity. In November 2016, the founder of Gravity Industries sustained a six-second flight with an Iron Man-like flying suit.
“I start to lift off and then I remember it was just this constant battle between two voices, one going, ‘Oh my God, oh my God. What’s going on? Land it,'” Browning said on his website. “And the other voice screaming at me going, ‘But we’re doing it. Keep going.'”
It had started out as an “admittedly crazy” project that he didn’t tell many people about and his wife patiently tolerated, he said in a WIRED video. But from that moment, it became an invention that would make make him known today as almost a superhero.
A year later, Browning set a Guinness World Record with the fastest speed in a body-controlled jet engine-powered suit at 32.02 miles per hour.
Browning dubbed the flight suit “Daedalus,” named for the mythical Greek inventor and father of Icarus who built wax and feather wings for himself and his son to escape from Minos.
The future of Daedalus, fitting to its namesake, may include wings.
Three pilots test the Daedalus flight suits over water. (Gravity Industries/#Takeongravity)
“That would, in theory, allow us to fly further and faster and higher and also use a lot less fuel, so hence go a lot further,” Browning told Guinness World Records.
Once wings are added, wind speeds will most likely have to be monitored before flight, much like the temperature is now to adjust the thrust of the five diesel-fueled turbo engines that the suit uses for lift off.
The new model of the suit, compared to the one Browning set a record with, has five turbo engines, two at each arm and a larger one on the wearer’s back, rather than six. The old model had two at each arm and two at the back.
Now, the fly time has drastically changed from just six seconds to up to 10 minutes and can reach about 12,000 feet high in altitude.
“I can describe it really as almost like that dream we have at one point in our lives about flying,” Browning said on his website. “It’s that complete three-dimensional freedom, that sensation of being able to go anywhere you desire. You just think, and you go there, and that’s pretty much what it feels like.”
Gravity Industry created Daedalus, a jet suit that is challenging the possibilities of human flight. (Gravity Industries/#Takeongravity)
Browning travels across the world for demonstrations, such as the Gravity Demo at the Future of Technology Summit in Washington, D.C., and people can sign up for flying lessons in the U.K. The suit itself, once a start-up dream, costs around $450,000.
He said in the WIRED video that the reason for creating the Daedalus was “purely just taking on a challenge that was considered to be pretty impossible. In my free time, I like to take on those kind of challenges.”
Browning said the goal wasn’t to create an “Iron Man” suit, but there were some “wonderful parallels,” and the Iron Man CGI community from the early films had reached out to him and confirmed the thinking behind the two suits were fairly similar.
But he also credits his family’s history to his ambition to fly.
His paternal grandfather was an airline and wartime fighter pilot, and his maternal grandfather was a British helicopter manufacturer.
But it was his late father, an aeronautical engineer and inventor who inspired him most, he said in a Ted Talk.
“This is also a very personal journey for me,” Browning said. “Sadly, my father took his own life when I was 15 and left an awful lot of unfulfilled ambition. He was a wonderful inventor, a maverick creator. And I’d just like to think, if it was possible, if he was looking down, he’d certainly be smiling at some of the things we’ve gone and done here. It’s really a tribute to him.”