Jet suit inventor Richard Browning wows crowds in Farnborough, England.

Rich Cooper/Courtesy of Gravity Industries

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Defying Gravity

How an inventor built a jet suit that lets him fly like a superhero

Richard Browning stands before a crowd of people. Suddenly, the roar of engines fills the air. The crowd erupts in cheers as Browning’s feet lift off the ground and he begins to fly!

Is Browning a superhero? Not quite. But he can zoom through the air thanks to a special suit he invented, called the Gravity Jet Suit.

The invention looks like a high-tech backpack equipped with arm sleeves. Attached to the suit are five small jet engines. These allow Browning to fly up to 90 kilometers (56 miles) per hour. That’s almost as fast as a car on the highway!

For the past two years, Browning has been showing off his suit around the world. It’s a thrill every time. “You feel this huge power at your fingertips,” he says. “It’s like a dream.”

Richard Browning stands before a crowd of people. Suddenly, the roar of engines fills the air. The crowd erupts in cheers. Browning’s feet lift off the ground. He begins to fly!

Is Browning a superhero? Not quite. But he can zoom through the air. That’s thanks to a special suit he invented. It’s called the Gravity Jet Suit.

The invention looks like a high-tech backpack. But it has arm sleeves. The suit has five small jet engines. They allow Browning to fly. He can go up to 90 kilometers (56 miles) per hour. That’s almost as fast as a car on the highway!

Browning has been traveling for the past two years. He’s been showing off his suit around the world. It’s a thrill every time. “You feel this huge power at your fingertips,” he says. “It’s like a dream.”

Prepare for Liftoff

Browning has loved building things since he was a kid. He would spend hours with his father taking apart old TVs and toasters to learn how they work. “That gave me a fascination for the design process,” he says. 

In 2016, Browning set out to build a sleek suit that would allow a human to fly. He knew his suit would need to produce an upward force stronger than the force of gravity pulling him to Earth (see Forces of Flight). Browning started by collecting several jet engines. These powerful devices blow out air, creating a pushing force called thrust.

Browning has loved building things since he was a kid. He would spend hours with his father. They’d take apart old TVs and toasters. They wanted to learn how they work. “That gave me a fascination for the design process,” he says. 

In 2016, Browning set out to build a suit. It would allow a person to fly. His suit needed to produce an upward force. That force had to be stronger than gravity. This force pulls things toward Earth (see Forces of Flight). Browning started by collecting several jet engines. These powerful devices blow out air. That creates a pushing force called thrust.

Browning tested the engines in a field near his home in England. He put on a helmet and knee pads and strapped an engine to each arm. When he pointed the engines down, the streaming air pushed against the ground. That created an upward force called lift. Browning could bounce about a meter (3 feet) high—but he couldn’t stay in the air. 

Next, Browning attached one jet engine to each leg. This prototype allowed him to hover for six seconds. But the engines were so powerful he couldn’t keep his legs straight. 

Failing again and again was important, Browning says. “I tried so many things to come up with what worked the best.”

Browning tested the engines. He did it in a field near his home in England. He put on a helmet and knee pads. Then he strapped an engine to each arm. He pointed the engines down. The streaming air pushed against the ground. That created an upward force. It’s called lift. Browning could rise about a meter (3 feet) high. But he couldn’t stay in the air. 

Browning made another prototype. It had a jet engine strapped to each leg. This allowed him to hover for six seconds. But the engines were too strong. He couldn’t keep his legs straight. 

Failing again and again was important, Browning says. “I tried so many things to come up with what worked the best.”

Gravity Industries

Browning works on the jet suit in his workshop in Salisbury, England.

Taking Flight

In 2017, Browning founded a company with a team of engineers called Gravity Industries. Over 11 months, the team refined the suit design many times. The latest version has two engines on each arm and one on the back. A custom helmet displays fuel information on the visor.

Browning designed his jet suit to be more compact than other wearable devices powered by jet engines. He says the suit is fairly easy to use. To take off, the pilot points the engines toward the ground. Pointing them slightly backward pushes the pilot forward. Flaring the engines outward allows the pilot to land. 

The highest Browning has flown is 30 meters (100 feet), but only over water. The suit doesn’t have a parachute to slow the pilot’s fall if an engine fails. That’s why Browning stays closer to Earth—about 3 meters (10 feet) above the ground. 

In 2017, Browning teamed up with some engineers. They founded a company. It was called Gravity Industries. The team worked for 11 months. They changed the suit design many times. The latest one has two engines on each arm. There’s also one on the back. The suit has a custom helmet. It shows fuel levels on the visor.

There are other suits powered by jet engines. But Browning designed his to be smaller. He says the suit is fairly easy to use. The pilot points the engines toward the ground to take off. Pointing them slightly backward pushes the pilot forward. Flaring the engines outward allows the pilot to land. 

The highest Browning has flown is 30 meters (100 feet). But only over water. The suit doesn’t have a parachute to slow the pilot’s fall if an engine fails. That’s why Browning stays closer to Earth. He hovers about 3 meters (10 feet) off the ground. 

Gravity Industries

Browning is planning events where flying jet suit pilots race through floating obstacles.

Flying Race

Unfortunately, you won’t be soaring to school in a jet suit anytime soon! Browning wants to use his invention for entertainment, not travel. He and his team are organizing a jet suit racing league. Pilots would fly through an obstacle course floating on water. 

Meanwhile, Browning is constantly improving the jet suit. The current design guzzles nearly 4 liters (1 gallon) of fuel per minute. A person can fly for just five minutes before the suit runs out of fuel. That’s why Browning and his team are trying to build one powered by electric engines. 

Browning wants his invention to encourage young people to turn their own dreams into reality. “I hope this inspires them to ask ‘What if?’” he says.

Sadly, you won’t be soaring to school in a jet suit anytime soon! Browning wants to use his invention to entertain, not travel. He and his team are creating a jet suit racing league. Pilots would fly through an obstacle course. It would float on water. 

Meanwhile, Browning is always updating his suit. The current design guzzles nearly 4 liters (1 gallon) of fuel per minute. A person can fly for just five minutes. Then the suit runs out of fuel. That’s why Browning and his team are trying something new. They’re building a suit powered by electric engines. 

Browning hopes his invention will encourage young people. They can turn their dreams into reality too. “I hope this inspires them to ask ‘What if?’” he says.

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