Iron Man lives! British inventor Richard Browning smashed his own world record Thursday for fastest speed in a body-controlled, jet-engine-powered, wind-guided suit, traveling at 85.06 mph (136.891 kph) over England's Brighton Pier.
"I'm really pleased with today I've done 75 mph before kind of privately in testing," Browning said after setting the record. "I had hopes that we could get into the 70s here, on the day, in the conditions that were going to be whatever they were going to be, but to go, then, even 10 miles an hour even faster than I'd ever been before -- couldn't be happier."
Browning is the founder of Gravity Industries, which makes the suits. He set the previous world record at 32.02 mph (51.53 kph). He said the suit has changed completely since he set the last record, and that it now is "entirely 3D-printed, lighter, stronger and much smarter," and that it gives the flyer the ability to fine-tune the power level mid-flight.
And he's not done. "That's just the beginning," he said. "We can go way faster." He has visions of suits flying at 150-180 mph, but says "we're going to do that in steady, sensible kind of steps. 85's pretty good for now."
And the sparklers on his leg that made him look even more like a superhero? He wasn't even controlling them.
"We thought it would look kind of dramatic," Browning said. "I wasn't even aware of them going off. That was somebody in my crew, detonating them remotely."
And yes, it felt just as cool to fly as you might think it does.
"It truly feels like that dream of flying you have sometimes in your sleep," he said to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Originally published Nov. 14.
Update, Nov. 15, 10:02 a.m.: Adds more quotes from Browning.