A brave Northern Ireland man — and his not so magnificent flying machine — has lifted off on a record-breaking attempt to fly around the world in a gyrocopter.
Norman Surplus’s epic adventure began yesterday in Co Antrim, the first step on a four-month journey across the globe.
His 27,000-mile adventure will take in deserts, mountains and oceans, along with some of the world’s most remote outposts.
As well as flying his way into the history books, Norman (47), who survived cancer five years ago, aims to raise vital funds for research into the disease.
Last night Norman had safely navigated to Blackpool. From there he will travel to France, and then on to Italy. After crossing Europe, he moves on to the Middle East, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Russia, Japan, the USA, Canada, Greenland and Iceland.
Norman plans to travel around 300 miles a day, and aims to be back home in Larne by July.
The gyrocopter became famous after an appearance in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.
Nobody has circumnavigated the globe in one.
“It's the last type of aircraft in existence yet to do so,” said Norman before he lifted off yesterday.
“I felt some years ago this record needs to be set, so I set about planning the expedition. It's probably about two years in the planning. The organising process is probably as arduous as the actual flight,” he told the BBC.
The journey will not be without problems, however. He had to plan a huge detour to avoid China, where there is too much military airspace. His schedule has also been timed to avoid the rainy season in the sub-continent.
As well as the record, he wants to raise bowel cancer awareness.
“I was an inmate of the Belfast Cancer Centre,” he added. “It was obviously quite a difficult time.
“At that time the prognosis wasn't great, I didn't really know what the future held. I'm very pleased to say I have come out from the other side of that.
“I would like to put something back for cancer awareness and I thought this was the sort of thing I would like to be involved in.
“Also I would like to provide encouragement for people who are in that situation now, because, obviously, it can happen to anybody at any time.”
Norman's aircraft is carrying a spot tracker so his progress can be followed online. He can be tracked at: www.gyroxgoesglobal.com