AN INVENTOR who has been described as the 'real-life Iron Man' took to the skies of Salisbury yesterday to demonstrate his flying jet suit.

Richard Browning flew the Gravity Jet Suit against the backdrop of the cathedral in front of around 250 students as part of a special programme promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Richard, who is the founder and chief test pilot of Gravity Industries, hopes the suits (costing around half a million pounds each) will later be turned into a racing series, and has recently performed demonstrations in Shanghai and Boston.

He said: "It is hard to truly describe what it [flying] is like."

"Given it was thundering down with rain earlier, I was pleased with how today went. We haven't really flown in heavy rain before, other than to waterproof some of the electronics, and we're lucky it didn't rain too much today.


He added: "The last school [event] we did was in Shanghai, and the one before that was Boston, and we've done schools all over the world.

"It is not hard to get kids excited about science and technology when you fly a 1000 horsepower jet suit in front of them."

At a talk for some of the students before the flight, Richard explained what he had planned for the future: "A race series.

"We are 18 months in and this is event 65, in 21 countries, in 18 months and the consistent feedback has been incredible.

"It's quite unusual, and people would like to see more of it. Imagine a whole bunch of people racing each other over water.

"That [racing] will also be a great way of super-sizing the entertainment value and accelerating the technology towards things like deployable wings, and we even have an electric version we're working on. This is just the beginning."

Bishops Wordsworth students Finley, Josh, Zack couldn't believe what they had watched: "I haven't seen anything like that before. To see someone actually fly in real life was amazing", said Finley.

Josh added: "The technology is crazy, and the fact were lucky enough to something like this is great."

Director of the GREAT Britain Campaign, Conrad Bird, who supported the event, said the suit is "an example of world-leading innovation and cutting-edge technology cultivated right here in Salisbury".