If birds could gloat, they would—what with the flying and all. But we may catch up soon, thanks to Gravity Industries, a startup based in Salisbury, England that has developed the coolest flying suit this side of Iron Man. The 1,050-horsepower system relies on five mini–jet engines—two each built into units attached to the hands and one built into a backpack. It can achieve speeds of 50 m.p.h. And for people with the right physical gifts, it’s easy to fly. “A gymnast we worked with was able to master it in three tries,” says inventor and company founder Richard Browning—though for others, he notes, the learning curve is steeper. For now, the suits are extremely expensive—a recent model went for $440,000—and extremely loud. But Browning hopes to raise money from ticket sales via suit races and other public events and roll the revenue into developing a quieter, cheaper electric version. There will, surely, be a market waiting. “It’s not an Iron Man suit,” Browning concedes. But it’s not exactly not one either. —Jeffrey Kluger
Correction, Jan. 10
The original version of this story misstated the location of Gravity Industries. It is in Salisbury, not London.