The real-life Iron Man is flying high. Photo credit: Tom Jackson


Going for Gold: the real-life Iron Man

Richard Browning
Richard Browning


British inventor, founder of Gravity Industries and Executive Club Gold Member Richard Browning puts down his jet suit (you heard us) to talk running, resilience and why he has his best ideas in business class

When did you first become Gold?
I became Gold when I worked for BP, so at least seven or eight years ago. I’ve been flying with British Airways for more than 20 years.

What’s your favourite thing about flying with British Airways?
It has to be settling down with a glass of wine in Club World ready for a long-haul return flight after a successful event. I genuinely love that feeling of enforced rest that British Airways’ Club World gives you. There’s something magical about being in my own little capsule of entertainment and hospitality, knowing I can’t rush off and do anything else. I do my best thinking sitting in Club World.

Favourite thing about being a Gold Member?
The lounges, of course.

Favourite thing about flying with British Airways?
There is nothing in the rules that says you can’t travel with jet engines.

What’s your number one tip for other Executive Club Members looking to hit Gold?
Put your hand up for lots of corporate travel in order to qualify!

What is your favourite route for keeping your Tier P
oints topped up?
Before the pandemic I would say that Los Angeles was our second home at Gravity Industries. It’s a long flight, but scores very well on the points side of things.


Regular long-haul flights to Los Angeles kept Richard’s Tier Points on the rise

What is your most flown route?
UK to the US is my most common route. I’ve been to 34 separate countries with Gravity but many of them only once, whereas I’ve been to the US many times. I mean, who in America doesn’t like a 1,000-horsepower flying suit that reminds them of Iron Man?

What is your favourite aircraft?
The Airbus A380 is pretty spectacular. It’s so quiet because you’re so far away from any engines most of the time.

Aisle or window seat?

Definitely a window seat, for the solitude.

What was it like the first time you managed to fly the suit?
Well it lasted six seconds! But it was the culmination of so much experimentation and repeated failure.

Biggest plane pet peeve?
Not being able to go for a run. I try and go for one every time before I travel and whenever I land. It’s a great way of seeing the place you’ve arrived in and a really good way to shake off the jet lag.

What is your best advice for sleeping on planes?
Go for that run! It’s a great way to get you feeling relaxed on board and you’ll feel ready to sit still for eight hours.

What are the three packing essentials you take on every flight?

A notebook, a pen to note down ideas (see answer number two) and a good pair of headphones so I can listen to music on my phone.

Top packing tip?
If you travel often, have your carry-on bag with a set of everything (or at least, the main things) you’ll need ready to one side. That way you won’t forget anything.


What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt from the Covid-19 crisis?
The importance of resilience, both in your business and in your attitude to life.

How do you get the most out of your Avios?
We were due to fly out to Bermuda (pictured above) to launch our jet suit race series before the pandemic and we paid for a lot of our team members’ flights with Avios. Reward Flights are a huge advantage to being in the Executive Club.

What’s your vision for the future of tech?
Never say never and never write off something you think sounds impossible.

What’s the one thing you would tell your younger self?
Worry less about the future (but I would have ignored it).

Richard’s new book, Taking on Gravity (£20) is available to order now

This article has been tagged BA, Technology