Guy Westgate, Richard Browning and Rob Barsby at the airshow. / J. RHODES

The magnificent British airmen and their flying machines

The inventor of the Jet Suit, Richard Browning, along with the Aerosparx team, were among the highlights of the Torre del Mar International Air Festival

JENNIE RHODES

One of the most hotly anticipated displays at last weekend's Torre del Mar International Air Festival was British inventor Richard Browning's Jet Suit.

'Rocket man'; or the 'human drone', developed and piloted by 43-year-old Browning from the UK's Gravity Industries company, demonstrated on Sunday how human autonomous flight through a system of turbines is possible.

Launched in March 2017, early on the business secured six-figure investment from companies including Tesla and Skype.

Browning brought together cutting-edge technology to reimagine human flight. This vision led to the creation of the world's first patented Jet Suit.

Five gas turbine jet engines allow vertical lift and ultimately human propulsion (VTOL technology) and the Jet Suit runs on jet fuel or diesel and can also run on kerosene.

Gravity explains that "The Jet Suit can fly easily for three to four minutes", although it has the capacity to fly for up to 10 minutes at up to 137 kilometres or 85 miles per hour and can fly for approximately eight miles before refuelling. However, the team explains that "most of our event flights are less than two minutes."

While Browning has demonstrated the suit in Spain before, there is special interest in the Aerodynamics flight academy based at the Leoni Benabú airport at Trapiche in the Axarquía, where the company is in talks about establishing a training centre.

"The place has fantastic facilities and we are looking to start a training facility here," Browning, who has a background in the Royal Marines, told SUR in English.

Aerosparx

The other British representation at the festival was the daredevil Aerosparx team comprising pilots Guy Westgate and Rob Barsby from Leicestershire.

Between them, they illuminated Torre del Mar's skies with a spectacular fireworks display as their motor gliders looped-the-loop, dipped and climbed as the finale of Saturday's Sunset Airshow.

The pair started off as glider pilots and "over a beer, not a salad" (the best ideas come from the former, not the latter, says Westgate) the idea to combine acrobatics in the air with fireworks was born.

Guy explained that he was "inspired by the waterfall of fireworks at the Edinburgh festival" one year and decided that he wanted to recreate something similar from his motorglider.

They now travel the world attending not only airshows but also providing fireworks displays at sporting events and festivals. They claim to be the only team that combines formation flying, aerobatics and pyrotechnics.

Westgate and Barsby have, over the years, worked hard to perfect their displays and have become experts in the field of pyrotechnics as well as aviation and also know how to put on an excellent show. So much so that Aerosparx took part in Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday celebrations in 2016 and they've even appeared on iconic British children's TV programme Blue Peter.