The jet suit developed by former commando Richard Browning has smashed its own record for speed after the inventor himself set a new world record by recording a top velocity of 85 mph. The flight took place this weekend alongside Brighton Pier, to ensure a survivable water landing if things went wrong with the jet suit, which is powered by five small gas turbine engines.
With the previous world record, also achieved by Browning piloting an earlier model of his jet suit in 2017 over Reading’s Lagoona Park, set at just 32 mph, the latest endeavour represented a more than doubling of the official top speed achieved. The daredevil inventor dubbed as ‘Iron Man’ commented:
“I’m really very pleased, very chuffed — it’s the fastest I’ve ever been, even in training,” he said. “Having Brighton Pier there, flying by an iconic landmark was really special.”
Browning’s jet suit is controlled by the wearer making small arm movements that require extensive practise to get right and is powered by two micro turbines on each arm and one on the suit’s back. The entrepreneur, whose company Gravity Industries is reportedly in talks with the UK’s army over funding to further develop the jet suit for potential military use, had hoped to double the previous 32 mph record to demonstrate the advances made in the technology used. The latest model had, said Browning, previously been flown at a top speed of 74 mph. However, the 85 mph achieved was even better than he had hoped for.
Guinness World Records editor-in-chief Craig Glenday commented on the feat:
“No one embodies the spirit of adventure like Richard Browning. He’s smashed his previous record and in much more challenging conditions. We are delighted to honour him again for this huge achievement on Guinness World Records Day.”
The attempt at a new jet suit speed record was made as part of the Guinness World Records Spirit of Adventure theme, which celebrates adventurers and boundary-pushers from around the world.
After leaving the army, where he served as a Royal Marine, Mr Brownling of Salisbury, Wiltshire, worked for a number of year as a commodities broker for BP. He left to found Gravity Industries and pursue his passion for invention and grand ambition to develop what he hopes will one day be a commercially viable jet suit. He is also the company’s chief test pilot.
To an extent Mr Brownling has already achieved his ambition with his jet suits now available for the general public to buy from Selfridges. But with a current price tag of a hefty £340,000, it is fair to say that it is not yet a more mass market product. However, as the technology used by his jet suits continues to be developed, there is a genuine chance that a working jet suit could in the foreseeable future become something that is more readily available to a wider market.