Way back in the spring of 2017, NEWSREP reported on former British Royal Marine-turned-inventor Richard Browning and his efforts to produce a jet pack that allows the user to fly a whole lot like Iron Man — using thrusters mounted on different parts of the body to control his movements while airborne. Gravity, the company that sprang up from those efforts, is in the news again recently, thanks to Adam Savage attempting to use it to create a “functional” Iron Man suit all his own.
The latest iteration of Browning’s suit utilizes six small jet engines: two mounted on the user’s back, and two mounted at the ends of each arm. Previous versions used leg-mounted jets, but the shift in placement seems to have added some much-needed stability to the apparatus. This demonstration doesn’t appear to be tied to any sort of deal brewing between Browning and the U.K. Ministry of Defense. Although his jet pack does make for one hell a ride, it likely wouldn’t offer much in the way of combat value in its current state. Of course, that didn’t stop some of the spectators from pointing out how handy a jet pack might be.
Well you don’t see this everyday. A Commando-trained ‘rocket man’ training on our assault course! pic.twitter.com/23IsRQRlqt
— Commandant of CTCRM (@ColMikeTanner) January 18, 2019
“Royal Marines are sometimes called ‘supermen’ for their achievements, but even we stop short at the ability to fly,” said Royal Marines Captain Oliver Mason after the demonstration. “Watching Richard float, fly and hover around the assault course was a very impressive, surreal experience. Imagine what we could do with these suits on the battlefield – although Royal Marines pride themselves on being stealthy and one thing the jet pack isn’t is quiet.”
The jet suit, dubbed Daedalus Mark 1, boasts a combined 1,000 horsepower, according to Gravity, Browning’s company. According to Browning, the suit could probably sustain speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour and reach altitudes as high as a few thousand feet — though safety has prevented him from truly attempting either. With just a few minutes of flight time, an engine failure at that speed or altitude would be fatal — particularly because there are two jet packs strapped to his back where a parachute ought to be. For now, users tend to top out at around 50 miles per hour.
Nonetheless, Browning has reportedly sold one suit for around $250,000, though the company doesn’t market itself as a supplier of jet packs. For now, its focus seems to be on conducting demonstrations of the technology. As far as the Royal Marines are concerned, the demonstration was worth it.
“I was delighted to welcome Richard and his Gravity team to test his latest jet suit on our assault course,” said Colonel Mike Tanner, the commandant of the Commando Training Center. “His endeavor to create this jet suit over two years is emblematic of the Commando mindset. I think it’s fair to say we all wanted a go!”
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