Many have tried – but all have failed – to defeat gravity. However, five-year-old Gravity Industries, which aims to reimagine the future of human flight and pioneers in aeronautical innovation, may have its namesake on the ropes.
British inventor Richard Browning, founder of Gravity, designed, built, patented and flew the world’s first gravity TKO powered spacesuit.
Using jet fuel as a means to power five gas turbines, the suit can propel pilots to about 40 miles per hour for eight minutes and can generate more than 1,000 horsepower. Pilots carry two gas turbines on each arm and a larger turbine on their backs; the turbines burn A-1 gaseous jet fuel and eject hot gas from the exhaust nozzles for propulsion.
The suit contains compressors, combustion chambers, shafts, turbine blades, a helmet display, a belt and 3D printing of selective laser sintering.
What’s even more incredible about jet suits is that any average person who wants to – and boasts the requisite disposable income, around US$3,500 plus VAT per person per day – can take part in the flight. The flight experience includes a flight demonstration by one of the Gravity pilots, an introduction to the jet suit and three runs on the tethered training stand.
For the more adventurous average person, Gravity also offers Flight Training, which boasts, in addition to individual flight training programs, the opportunity to register as a member of an exclusive community of jet suit pilots, as well as the opportunity to participate in an upcoming international race. series. But training is a bit more expensive — $8,500 plus VAT per person per day.
Gravity offers several locations for its training courses. One of these is The Goodwood Estate (“Goodwood is where we call home,” notes Gravity on its website), located in Chichester, UK, about an hour’s drive from London or Heathrow. The other is Air7 in Camarillo, California.
Gravity is tuned to use suits to greater advantage. Says Sam Rogers, test pilot, lead designer of Gravity Technical reports that the company has paramedics testing suits to reach and stabilize people trapped at high altitudes, is flying ship-to-ship with special forces, and preparing the aforementioned race series.
Here is a Technical reports interview (edited for clarity and length) with Sam Rogers, test pilot, lead designer of Gravity.
Technical summaries: What inspired the design and creation of the jet suit?
Rogers: Richard Browning invented the jet suit only to redefine human flight.
Technical summaries: What were the biggest technical challenges in the design and development?
Rogers: Iterating the placement of the motors and positions around the body to where they are today, the backpack and the two arm mounts. The challenge now is to turn the suit into a device as easy to use as a consumer drone.
Technical summaries: Can you explain in simple terms how a jet suit works?
Rogers: Two arm mounts and a backpack, each mounted with jet turbines, allow a person to fly, creating a “tripod” of thrust. In flight, the suit is controlled by the position of the body and arms.
Technical summaries: What part of the suit is 3D printed? What materials are used for 3D printing?
Rogers: Almost the entire suit is 3D printed from nylon, polypropylene and aluminum.
Technical summaries: How far has jetpack technology advanced since Gravity was created in 2017?
Rogers: The suit is an easier to use piece of equipment, more capable, and easier to learn to fly.
Technical summaries: What is the next step for your research/testing?
Rogers: We never make two suits the same, they always improve with each design we print. Higher thrust for greater equipment carrying capacity, faster launches and ease of flight are rapidly improving.
Technical summaries: What is the real life use of a jet suit? Does Gravity work with the military on any projects?
Rogers: We have paramedics testing the use of jet suits to quickly reach and stabilize a patient on the mountain; perform ship-to-ship flights with special forces; and we have a series of races in development. Watch our YouTube: Gravity Industries; most of our latest tests and developments hit social media, you can follow us @TakeOnGravity
Technical summaries: How far are we from making these jetpacks affordable to the common man? From being completely ubiquitous? From the jetpack racing league?
Rogers: A racing league is most likely in the works. Jet suits are very loud, so you probably don’t want all your neighbors driving to work in them.
Technical summaries: Do you have any advice for design engineers looking to bring their ideas to market?
Rogers: Take photos and videos of everything you build – whether it works or not. Document your builds, failures, and successes so you can show the people you want to impress that you can actually build things in the real world.
Technical summaries: Anything else you would like to add?
Rogers: Most of our latest tests and developments hit social media, you can follow us @TakeOnGravity.