Jet suit pilot takes to the skies
Pupils witnessed a human in flight yesterday as a British jet-suit inventor took to the skies.
Richard Browning flew above Warwick Academy, powered by five gas-turbine jet engines strapped to his body.
About 450 high school students gathered in the school’s sports field to watch the stunt.
Mr Browning is the founder and chief test pilot of the British company Gravity Industries, which creates the cutting-edge technology.
He flew for just under a minute, and landed on a moving truck during his flight. The technology allows people to fly at up to 50mph for ten minutes.
The inventor said he performed the flight to inspire students to embrace science, technology, engineering and maths education and to test the boundaries of innovation.
Students watched in awe as he hovered above the school grounds before making a perfect landing on a picnic table.
Kristy Sanchez, 15, a Bermuda High School pupil, said: “I think it was pretty surreal.
“You watch the Marvel movies and it makes sense in the cinematic universe, but when you think about the physics around it, it is pretty wild.
“I love learning about chemistry, physics and biology and how they all work together. Physics is hard to understand ,but it is really cool once you do know it.”
Chevron Hunt, 15, of the Berkeley Institute, said: “I thought it was really cool to see that high level of engineering.
“I am very interested in Stem. It has inspired me to do more research and try to enhance my level of engineering as well.”
Ozahri Broadley, 16, who also attends the Berkeley Institute, added: “It shows that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. I enjoy physics and I was inspired. Imagine if I could make my own jetpack and instead of taking a bike or car I could fly somewhere.”
Mr Browning will speak at the TEDx Bermuda Conference at the Fairmont Southampton today. He officially launched the jet suit in April 2017 and this is his 89th public flying event in more than 30 countries.
After the flight, he told the students: “We are a self-funding organisation that managed to turn a quite ludicrous idea into something that is working quite well.
“If you get an opportunity, go down that pathway and try to do something that shouldn’t work — every major invention and breakthrough in the world has taken the same journey.
“It has been where somebody has not been afraid to go and explore the supposedly impossible.”
Mr Browning explained that some practical uses of the technology have included military and search and rescue exercises.
He is also working on an international race series.
One Communications funds the student outreach aspect of the conference each year.
Dave Horan, the Warwick Academy principal, said: “Bermuda punches well above its weight when it comes to the experiences that students can get and this is quite an exceptional one.”
Mr Browning came to Bermuda after Mathew Joseph, the son of TEDx Bermuda organiser Sophie Mathew, reached out to him via Instagram.
Mr Joseph, 25, a former Warwick Academy student, is the team lead for an interactive mapping tech company.
He explained: “I found him on Instagram and sent him a message. I have always been interested in flight and this was the newest technology.
“I trained with Richard for a day at his facility in London and it was exhilarating.”
TEDx Bermuda takes place today, from 1pm to 5pm at the Fairmont Southampton.
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