For those keeping up with the fledgeling personal jet flight sector, there's really three people to keep an eye on, and they each neatly fit a superhero model. Australia's David Mayman of Jetpack Aviation plays Buck Rodgers, with his awesome JB-series jetpacks well and truly operational. France's Franky Zapata is the Green Goblin, surfing the air on his extraordinary Flyboard Air jetboard. And Britain's Richard Browning gets the Iron Man role, with a jet suit that features thrusters on his arms and back.
This is terrifically fun stuff. All three of these guys and their teams are now blasting around the skies in demonstration flights and world record attempts, and as soon as the "dead zone" problem is fixed (ballistic parachutes can't save you if one of these devices fails below about 100 feet), they'll start to hit the market in a serious way.
For the moment, though, we have to be satisfied watching these pioneers of personal flight having all the fun and taking all the risk. And in the latest video-documented feat from Richard Browning, he's taken his 1,000-horsepower Gravity suit and flown Europe's longest and fastest zip line – backwards. Or upwards, if you like.
It's effectively a way to speed test the suit and learn about high-speed aerodynamics, over ground, in a safe manner, as Browning was tethered to the zip line, which would have caught him and returned him to the bottom of the run pronto if his jet suit failed.
The venue is Zip World, outside Bangor in in North Wales, specifically the Velocity 2 wire, which stretches from the bottom of a huge quarry all the way up to the top, offering terrific views. It looks like a ton of fun even if you're not jet powered.
Thus far, Browning has managed to hit upwards of 90 km/h (56 mph) – no mean feat given the extremely physically demanding nature of the Gravity suit and the fact that he was operating in a difficult crosswind.
Enjoy the video below!
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