Richard Browning is pursuing the stuff of a million childhood dreams. But having built a working jetpack, will anybody use it?
On a gloomy afternoon in a Sussex wood, a 21st-century superhero appears. Dressed in black, helmeted, a pack on his back and jets on his arms, he rises to a couple of metres above the ground, accelerates up above a grassy bank and then hovers in a swirling cloud of autumn leaves.
No matter how many times you’ve watched a video on YouTube, nothing can quite prepare you for the sight of a human being in flight. It is the embodiment of a thousand myths, from Hermes and Peter Pan to Iron Man, as well as a million childhood dreams, and is the only correct answer to that old new scooprum: which superpower would you choose, invisibility or flying? If it wasn’t for the roar of the jet engines and the smell of fuel, you would assume it was just a dream.