[Richard Browning] wants to fly like Daedalus. To us, it looks a bit more like Iron Man. [Browning] is working on project Daedalus, a flight suit powered by six jet engines. These turbines are exactly the type one would find on large, fast, and expensive R/C planes. Some of this is documented on his YouTube channel, Gravity Industries, though RedBull has also gotten involved and have a video of their own that you can check out after the break.
The project started last year in [Browning’s] garage. He strapped a jet to an old washing machine to test its thrust. The jet nearly flipped the machine over, so he knew he would have enough power to fly. The suit started with a turbine strapped to each arm. Then it became two on each arm. This was enough for moonlike hops, but not enough for actual flight. Strapping an engine to each leg worked but was rather hard to control. The current configuration features two turbines per arm, and two on a backpack.
The whole setup is quite similar to [Frank Zapata]’s Flyboard Air, with one key difference – [Browning] is supporting two thirds of his weight with his hands. The effect is similar to supporting oneself on gymnastic rings, which is part of his extreme physical training regimen.
The arm-mounted jets allow quite a bit of control, but at a safety cost. Jet exhaust typically is several hundred degrees Celcius. Enough to make the turbine exhaust nozzles glow dull red. If [Browning] crosses his body with that exhaust, he’s going to have a bad day. Most of the Daedalus suit flights have only been a couple of feet in the air. We hope [Browning] doesn’t push the envelope there too much. He’s flying over concrete, which is a lot less forgiving than [Frank Zapata’s] water crossings.
Since much of the coverage on this project started right around April 1, some people have been wondering if it is actually a hoax. We’re pretty convinced this is a real jet suit. Practical? Nope. Safe? Hell no. But yes, this is the real deal.