Ex-Marine Straps Jet Engines to His Arms, Becomes Iron Man

Red Bull

Ever wanted to fly around in an Iron Man-like rocket suit? Richard M Browning, a 38-year-old British ex-marine, had the same idea and decided to do something about it. He built a suit called Daedalus, named after the figure from Greek mythology that fashioned a flying suit out of feathers, except this one involves six jet engines strapped to his arms and body. On Friday, Browning announced that he had formed a new startup, Gravity, which has filed patents on his suit.

“This project started with the question around just what could you achieve by combining the human body, the human mind and the best of technology,” Browning said in a video produced by Red Bull.

The £40,000 ($50,260.10) suit uses six miniature jet engines on the arms and back. The engines are the same as the ones used on model planes, and contain kerosene-fueled micro gas turbines. Combined, they produce 286 pounds of thrust. These are combined with an exoskeleton and snake-bite-resistant walking boots.

Gravity claims it wants to re-imagine the future of human flight and pioneer aeronautical innovation, Daedalus is the first step, but the current version is rather constrained — even with six jet engines, Browning is only able to float a few feet off the ground.

It all started twelve months ago, when Browning bought his first jet engine and attached it to a washing machine. He cranked the throttle to just over full capacity, and the machine nearly flipped over.

“At that point, I was fairly convinced we had something worth playing with,” Browning said in the video.

Check out this clip of Browning’s suit in action.

Browning’s idea received some skepticism along the way.

“First thoughts were, really?,” Jon Reece, software engineer at 4E Futures, said in the video. “What, you want to do what, you want to use jet engines to try and fly?”

The suit feels like riding a three-dimensional bike, but getting started is not as simple as strapping yourself in. Every week, Browning does three intensive calisthenics sessions, cycles a distance of over 90 miles, and runs 25 miles every Saturday at 2 a.m.

Where to from here? Browning hopes that one day, you’ll be able to strap into a suit, fly around the garden, and come back down.

“Our vision is to build an entirely new generation of human flight systems for commercial, military and entertainment applications,” the Gravity website reads. Fingers crossed the startup takes after the suit and successfully lifts off.