THE 'real life Iron Man' wowed crowds at a Somerset school last week by showing off his world record breaking jet suit.

Richard Browning, a former student of Queen's College in Taunton, took to the skies in front of hundreds of pupils and staff on Friday afternoon.

The inventor was also on hand to give a talk to parents and governors after his awe-inspiring flight, before he cut the ribbon at the school's newly relaunched Design and Technology block.

Mr Browning, who was a Queen's student from 1987 to 1997, broke his own jet suit world record in November with an incredible 85mph flyby at Brighton Pier.

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He spoke to press after he whizzed around the school's back field, and said: "I have never seen the school from that angle, and I never imagined I would be back in the school doing this.

"I never imagined I would be running my own company, my own jet suit business with a team of 30.

"I like to think we are bringing together the world of Marvel and superheroes, but also some physics."

Buzz grew at the back of Queen's College as Richard Browning fired up his jet engines - two on either hand.

He added: "It all worked out great. It was a really nice flight. It was fun. Who would have thought I would be coming to this location?

"This was our 97th event in 30 different countries. It is three years since we launched this company.

"It was never about building a world record setting machine. That is just another thing that we can use to measure our success, but I didn’t set out to break the record necessarily."

Not content with more than doubling his first world record pace, Richard believes his company, Gravity Industries, can get the suit to go twice as fast again.

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"We set the record at 32mph, and I think it was 18 months later we did it again at 85mph," he said.

"I think we might be able to double that again, eventually. We just have a few safety things we need to enhance before we go to that speed."

Dr Lorraine Earps is the headteacher at Queen's College.

She said: "My son is obsessed with Marvel superheroes and as such I have seen more superhero films than I care to think about.

"When I realised that Richard Browning, the real life Iron Man, was a past student of Queen's, he was the obvious choice to ask to open our new engineering centre."

Mr Browning flew in front of Queen's pupils for around a minute, and said the jet suit has enough fuel for around five minutes.

Dr Earps added: "It was about three years ago we decided it was the right thing to do to reverse a historical decision made previously to remove the design and technology and engineering elements in the school and go towards graphics.

"Engineering is massively important. There is a huge shortage of engineers in the country and will be for a number of years. We wanted our students to see that it is inventive and exciting.

"We exist in a world that is complicated, with complicated problems, and we need solutions to it.

"I want people to see you can be really creative and be a scientist."

Mr Browning, Dr Earps and chair of governors Mark Edwards also spoke at the ribbon cutting.

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The headteacher said: "We have reinstated our engineering block and got two fully functioning design and technology labs. They have all the traditional things you would expect to see in there, as well as some futurist engineering elements.

"Modern day engineering is an exciting mix of science, technology and creativity, and we wanted to give out young people chance to develop those skills in a practical, hands on fashion, incorporating traditional design techniques with more contemporary approaches like 3D printing."

This was especially fitting as the pack for the Gravity Industries jet suit is entirely 3D printed.

The relaunched DT centre has been named after George Hardwick, a Somerset mechanical engineer who was at school from 1958 to 1963.

Mr Hardwick left the school a substantial legacy when he died in 2016, aged 67.

Dr Earps said: "George was an inventor and he designed and produced his own motorbikes and raced them across Europe. He worked for a range of companies and was a consultant at Rolls Royce.

"It felt like the right thing to use that money he bequeathed to develop our engineering block, something we know he was passionate about."

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