Jetpacks are well and truly a thing now, and the cast is emerging for an airborne real-life superhero showdown that we pray will one day eventuate.
Playing Buck Rogers is Aussie David Mayman of Jetpack Aviation, whose extraordinary JB-series jetpacks are production-ready and already being flown by "civilians." In the role of Green Goblin, Frenchman Franky Zapata. Zapata's spectacular Flyboard Air lets him surf through the air on a wave of jet-powered thrust.
And as of this weekend, we've got an Iron Man too. Richard Browning, of Salisbury, UK, has built a frankly terrifying looking system that puts RC hobby-sized jet engines on his lower back, and both arms.
Flying the thing looks incredibly difficult, as you can see in the video below. Pushing your arms against that much thrust and stabilizing your body in mid-air takes a ton of strength and endurance.
Browning's the man for the job, then. Even as a triathlete, ultra-marathon runner and endurance canoeist, he's still had to train like a man possessed to build the muscle to fly what he's dubbed "Project Daedalus," named for the father of Icarus in Greek mythology.
Refreshingly, Red Bull has put together a video that shows Browning's struggle to control the powerful jets rather than just his success. It's pretty compelling watching him wrestle with the different versions of the device, including one where the engines are mounted on his hands and feet. The core and upper body strength needed to fly the final prototype looks pretty epic.
Browning's flight suit currently comprises a helmet, boots, harness and motocross armor, but he's looking to expand the technology to include a HUD system, wireless datalink to a ground station and an airbag to lessen the damage when the inevitable happens.
Browning has founded a startup called Gravity to develop and commercialize the Daedalus flight device. But we think the first thing he should do is call David Mayman and Franky Zapata and get all three of these pioneering machines in the air at once as a spectacular demonstration of the current state of personal flight.
Check out the video below.