What’s it like to feel the powerful thrust of lift-off, the sensation of floating, and the weightlessness of soaring across the sky? Humans have long yearned to fly. Psalm 104 describes God as riding the wind. In ancient Greek mythology, Icarus made wings and took to the sky—but flew too close to the Sun. We’re fascinated by the prospect of navigating the clouds, pushing our bodies higher and higher, faster and faster. Richard Browning dreamed of an invention that would propel his body up into the sky—and then he built it.
Browning holds the patent for the world’s first Jet Suit. He took on the ultimate flight challenge inhibited only by gravity—and he wasn’t afraid to fail. He tested his big ideas over years of trial and error, a plethora of adjustments, and some truly daredevil experiments. Many of his good intentions fell from the sky (quite literally) before he nailed down a Jet Suit design that actually worked.
Some people liken the Jet Suit to a real-life Iron Man suit. It has three jet engines, two of which are arm jet packs. The third, larger engine—which is flanked by fuel tanks—straps to the pilot’s back. That engine has power equivalent to both arm engines combined. Fueled up, the Jet Suit weighs 65 pounds. Even with all that heft, it can launch a pilot 80 feet into the air and reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour. Spectators at London’s Tech Week 2019 witnessed Jet Suits in action as three pilots soared through an airspace obstacle course over the Royal Victoria Docks waterway.
When people use their God-given creativity and intelligence well, it brings Him glory. By exploring the scientific laws that the Creator set in place, we can put them to work in unexpected ways.
That’s exactly what Browning did. He studied the laws of science, trying out new ideas within the context of real physical boundaries. He harnessed the forces of propulsion, gravity, thrust, and balance and crafted his Jet Suit to use them. The human brain operates as the suit’s flight computer and the human body as the flight structure.
Browning’s invention may be the closest thing yet to achieving individual flight. At the very least, it’s an attention-getting, breathtaking, adrenaline-pumping, gravity-defying, and admirable effort!