How sheer determination and an incredible fitness ethic has led one man to (quite literally) take off.
Most people go to the gym to lose weight, stay trim or train for an event. Not Richard Browning. For Richard, every moment spent working out gets him closer to what many will think is the stuff of little boys’ dreams: powered human flight.
Richard is the founder of Gravity Industries, a start-up that has invented, built and patented a human propulsion technology that re-imagines manned flight.
He has created an exoskeleton suit with miniature jet-engines strapped to the arms and legs that allow vertical take off. The Daedalus, Gravity’s mark 1 jet-engine suit, looks uncannily like something out of Iron Man.
And yet, watching the video of Richard’s first few attempts at defying gravity, it is clear that achieving take-off is not as smooth for mere mortals as it is for a super hero. It clearly takes a huge amount of strength and balance to stay in the air, hence the hours spent in the gym.
Richard explains: “The jet-engines are generating 50kg of thrust upwards on each arm. Combined with all the kit and fuel, the weight quickly adds up, which essentially means I am holding a dynamic dip and balancing using shoulders and lateral muscles. Mentally and physically, it is extremely demanding.”
Which is where the fitness comes in. Richard has been training at Third Space Canary Wharf with calisthenics expert Denton Conteh, working on his core strength, balance and high muscle fibre recruitment for short bursts of intense power.
Keeping his weight down also helps. A former Royal Marines Reserve(IST), Richard has always been fit. However his latest venture has meant he needs to push the boundaries further, so he has become a regular triathlete and Ultra Marathon runner in a bid to reduce body fat and stay light.
For those that have not dreamed of becoming a super hero, the question is obviously why?
“It’s a family thing. I had one grandfather who was a civil pilot and Hurricane trainer during WW2 and another who was CEO of Westand Helicopters. My father was an aeronautical engineer and maverick inventor. I have always inspired by speed, flight and pushing boundaries.”
Richard believes the Daedalus suit will mark the start of a new era that redefines raw human flight. Aside from the potential commercial, military and entertainment applications it is an unparalleled spectacle to behold and enormous fun for the pilot. He is in talks with a number of firms to develop a showcase R&D lab. And he has already received a number of requests from people to make custom suits. Now that would be a good way to beat commuter traffic.
About Richard Browning:
Richard spent five years, between 2002 and 2007, as a Royal Marines Reserve alongside a 15 year career as a City commodity trader. He has dedicated himself to triathlons, 140km ultra-marathons, 200km Endurance Canoe races and calisthenics in his pursuit of personal challenge. He defines his approach to life as one pursuing ‘innovation and endeavour’.