Man to fly over Bermuda in jet suit
An inventor pioneering a new “Superman” era in human aviation will fly over Bermuda in a jet suit this month.
Richard Browning is the founder and chief test pilot of the British company Gravity Industries, which creates the cutting-edge technology that allows people to fly like superheroes at up to 50mph for ten minutes.
He will speak at the TEDx conference at the Fairmont Southampton next Saturday.
Mr Browning, a former Royal Marines reservist, will discuss the evolution of the jet suit, which uses five gas-turbine jet engines to allow vertical lift and human propulsion.
During his stay, he will perform a flight for schoolchildren studying Stem, for which he is a passionate advocate.
Mr Browning said jet suits, which use similar designs to jet engines, were initially used for large model aircraft and drones.
He told The Royal Gazette: “They weren't intended for putting on humans, but that's what a couple of us are doing now.
“It all started with playing with an engine. I realised it was very benign and very gentle, albeit extremely powerful.”
Mr Browning's talk will cover the evolution of the jet suit “from the vision through lots of fails, through to success”. It will include spectacular footage.
He said: “We will be bringing a suit to Bermuda and hopefully flying in a few different locations.”
Mr Browning was inspired by his father, a maverick aeronautical engineer and inventor entrepreneur.
“He died leaving a lot of unfulfilled ambition. You could interpret my drive to do what I am doing to fulfil that unfulfilled ambition,” he said.
“I developed this for the fun of taking on the challenge of something that was supposed to be not possible. Now it has ended up being so successful. It has certainly proved its worth from an entertainment perspective and capturing people's imagination.”
Mr Browning is also planning an International Race Series, which he hopes will inspire others to help develop the technology.
He added: “From a search and rescue, law enforcement and military point of view, there are a lot of applications we are exploring.
“Who knows, it could be a stepping stone in a new era of human mobility, but it is going to need a lot of evolution to get there.
“The first motorcars were considered noisy, smelly and inefficient compared to a horse, so who knows.”
Sophie Mathew, TEDx organiser, said: “We have been seeking out groups that might wish to take this opportunity and raise the funds themselves for a separate event, but that's outside of TEDx and therefore have asked another event organiser to help making a public flight happen.”
• TEDx Bermuda, which this year has a theme of “Capacity and Curiosity”, takes place at the Fairmont Southampton on October 5 from 1pm to 5pm. Tickets are available for $75 from ptix.bm. For more information, e-mail Sophie Mathew at firstname.lastname@example.org
• UPDATE: this article has been amended to make clear that the event is happening this month and that TEDxBermuda does not soliicit funds for events outside its purview