ATLANTA - If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to fly, that dream is now a reality. An inventor created a jet suit kind of like the one in the "Iron Man" movies.
“It was very cool. I couldn’t believe he went up so quick. And it was loud,” said Ilana Wilensky after watching a demonstration of the jet suit at the Woodruff Arts Center on May 1.
“Obviously the 'Iron Man' character uses a form of propulsion that doesn’t exist, but other than that' this is probably about the closest you can get to adding a flying suit to a human being,” said Richard Browning, the founder & chief test pilot for Gravity Industries.
“The feeling is probably best described as a bit like that dream you have every now and then about being kind of weightless and floating around,” said Browning.
With fuel the jet suit weighs about 65 pounds. It has jet engines on both arms.
“That tube as you can see my hands inside there, that marries up two engines to my arm and then you’ve got another one on the other side. Around the back, you’ve got one larger engine that’s roughly the same power as those two put together, and either side of that engine is a fuel tank,” said Browning.
He told Channel 2 it’s pretty easy to use. “So, now the moment you take off it actually is, it’s kind of like leaning forward on a table at about, I don’t know, 45 degrees. It really isn’t very difficult at all,” said Browning.
The jet suit can fly 50 to 80 feet above water and hit speeds of up to 60 mph for about five minutes at a time.
Browning said he has flown the jet suit in 24 countries.
He said his time in the British Royal Marines, along with running ultramarathons, inspired him. He said both gave him a deep respect for what the mind and body can achieve with enough training.
“Why not take an approach of flight where you’re trying to lean on that as much as possible? I don’t want to sit in a seat and press go. I want to be in command of, my body is the flight structure. My brain is the flight computer," he said.
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Browning said he envisions using the jet suit for a race series.
"And different guys and girls from a variety of sporting backgrounds assembling to go and race these in a real celebration of human and machine that’s going to be awesome,” he said.
He also said he wants to inspire future innovation.
“If we can as a byproduct of that, you know, drive the STEM agenda and inspire another generation of kids to ask, 'What if?' like I did,” said Browning.
He said Gravity is developing an electric version of the jet suit that could some day become a new form of transportation.
“The race series we’re building is going to be a great mechanism to accelerate the technology, though, and get us to a point where maybe it does become the dawn of a whole new form of human mobility,” said Browning.
Those who saw the jet suit in action are impressed.
“Definitely a show stopper,” said Haille Wright.
Channel 2 asked Browning about the jet suit’s safety. He said if an engine were to fail he would feel it immediately and likely be able to descend and manage it. He told us the backpack and arm assemblies also provide some protection.
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