Human flight has been taken to new record-breaking speeds thanks to the real-life Iron Man who has achieved the fastest speed in a body-controlled jet engine powered suit (wind-guided) at 85.06 mph (136.891 km/h).
With Brighton Pier as his backdrop, and supported by Xperience Days, Richard took to the air in front of crowds and the media as the showpiece event for this year's Guinness World Records Day, which carries the theme "Spirit of Adventure".
Learn about more record-breaking exploits in the Spirit of Adventure chapter in Guinness World Records 2020
After two attempts, which involved flying to and from a boat at the end of the pier, Richard's new and improved suit - the direction of which is controlled by body movement alone and requires core strength to balance - propelled him to a new record speed.
"I'm really pleased," he declared afterwards. "I was confident we should be able to do it but that’s very different to coming here and actually achieving it, especially when we make our lives complicated by putting several other pilots up as well.
"You can never discount the possibility of having a technical problem, so I’m really pleased we’ve delivered what we’ve done. And that is indeed the fastest I’ve ever gone. In training we were doing about 75 mph so that’s significantly faster.
"I didn’t think we’d break what we did in training so I’m very chuffed."
The wind and rain which often accompanies a British autumn day held off as Richard completed two-way runs along the pier which were required for the average speed to be taken to even out inconsistencies such as wind speed and direction.
"It’s pretty exhilarating, the adrenalin flows when you’re hammering along over the waves doing that," added Richard, who also explained how he enjoyed the change in scenery for this flight.
"When you’re travelling fast over a grey ocean it’s quite difficult even for me to judge my speed. So having the pier and things like the jetski were really good.
"Flying alongside the historic pier makes it very special, and actually when you’re flying out over the sea or a lake and there’s nothing there other than a boat to get to, it’s quite a lonely experience. It doesn’t feel so lonely having a pier right there. "
Richard actually broke his 2017 record on his first run out to the boat with a speed of 78.5 mph (48.77 mph). However he and the Gravity team wanted to see if they could go even faster, and ended up topping 85 mph.
Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday praised Richard afterwards.
"We had expectations he would break the record today," he said. "He wanted to double the record but he’s smashed it. I think it’s a testament to his bravery and spirit of adventure. He embodies that and is a perfect ambassador for Guinness World Records Day."
But what is so different about the suit since they broke the record three years ago?
"Almost everything!" Richard said. "Now the suit is entirely 3D printed, lighter, stronger and much smarter," which includes the ability to fine tune the power mid-flight, something he describes as "a revolution".
As well as major changes under the skin, the suit now includes a leg wing and leg straights which start to lift Richard "aerodynamically like a plane so more of the power can go to propelling rather than just lifting".
Despite the suit looking very technical and potentially difficult to control, Richard said the only ever nail-biting moments come during testing.
"Only when testing new developments, especially at speed. You feel how different wing systems behave as you transition into winged flight, skimming over the water, learning in real-time."
However, the majority of the time the suit is easy to control and an amazing flight experience, according to Richard.
"It truly feels like that dream of flying you have sometimes in your sleep. You are entirely and completely free to move effortlessly in three dimensional space and you shed the ties of gravity."
Unfortunately, for the rest of us, it will be a while before we're flying around with our own body-controlled jet engine powered suit.
"It's not the future of transportation in its current form. It's a bit like a Formula 1 car or the prices at fashion shows... neither are entirely practical but hopefully an inspiring and engaging insight into what the future might be. The first cars were noisy and unreliable vs a horse, but look where that first step led."
Richard's second attempt does allow Gravity to show how far they've come in two years with more suits able to reach higher speeds.
"We’ve got several other pilots not even flying today – imagine them racing round a water course. Not going fast in a straight line as such but manoeuvring around obstacles like a Red Bull Air Race.
"That’s what we’re building towards so this is a nice demonstration of the capabilities we’ve now got."
Read about other achievements celebrated on Guinness World Records Day:
- Explorer becomes youngest person to reach the South Pole on their own after 51-day trek across Antarctica
- The woman making '60 the new 40' by becoming the oldest person to swim the 200-km Oceans Seven
- Riding the length of Japan on a scooter: why a red samurai has embarked on an 8,000-km journey
- Disabled son inspires proud dad’s record-breaking swim for Guinness World Records Day
- Harlem Globetrotters set yet more records with long-distance basketball shots and even more tricks
- Adventurer rides 10,000 km across the width of China on his electric scooter
- Brothers travel more than 3,000 miles around China by train in just 24 hours
- Doctors pedal more than 28,000 km to circumnavigate the globe on a tandem