Real-life ‘Iron Man’ flies over Vltava River

Richard Browning, photo: Vojtěch Koval / Czech Radio

People walking through the city centre in Prague on Tuesday were treated to the unbelievable sight of a man flying over the Vltava River. The man, dressed in a jet suit, was British inventor Richard Browning, known as the 'real-life Iron Man', who came to the Czech capital to demonstrate his latest invention.

Richard Browning,  photo: Vojtěch Koval / Czech Radio
Richard Browning's stunning flight took place outside Prague’s Žofín Palace on Tuesday in front of a large crowd of onlookers. Mr Browning, dressed in his body-controlled jet engine power suit called Daedalus, rose above the Slovanský island jetty, flew down the river and below the Legions Bridge.

This is what he had to say to Czech Radio right after he landed.

“I have never flown alongside ducks before. That was quite fun. It was great. In a small area like that, it was really fun flying under a bridge. The paddle owners were quite funny. I got carried away chasing the ducks.”

The British inventor and entrepreneur was one of the guests at this year’s SingularityU summit on Prague’s Žofín Island, which brings together visionaries and futurists from all around the world.

Browning has already made around 70 similar demonstration flights all around the world. He told Czech Radio that he was glad his Czech premiere went smoothly:

“Any event where I don’t go for a swim or don’t fall or fail to start is a good event.”

Browning, an ex-Royal Marine Reservist and a former commodity trader, founded a start-up called Gravity Industries in March 2017, with a dream to invent an entirely new form of human flight.

The Daedalus suit, named after the father of Icarus, uses several miniature jet engines to achieve vertical flight. It can reach a speed of 32 miles per hour and ascend to altitudes of 12,000 feet. Mr Browning uses his arms to control the direction and speed of the flight.

Richard Browning,  photo: Vojtěch Koval / Czech Radio
“You are absolutely completely three-dimensionally free. You can move in any direction at almost any speed just by thinking where you are going to go.

“It sounds ludicrous but if you think about it, it’s what you do with a bicycle. You just look where you are going to go and you go there. And it’s the same as this. But in a three-dimension.”

The British inventor is now planning to launch a racing series using his jet-powered flight:

“I would like to think that this was a small showcase example of what it would be like. Imagine not just me doing it, but another three pilots who are racing each other around obstacles and under bridges.

“That’s what we are really aiming to achieve. We’ve got several other pilots and serval other jet suits so that’s what we are going to do for the rest of the year, alongside other events.