Belfast Telegraph

Daredevil’s epic flight is back on

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

It is an adventure that was meant to last 115 days.

But two years on Northern Ireland daredevil Norman Surplus is still trying to complete his world record bid to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a James Bond-style helicopter.

And the father-of-two from Larne, who has already flown 13,000 miles over more than a dozen countries, was back in the air this week for test flights in preparation for the final leg of the epic journey in the tiny aircraft made famous in the Bond movie, You Only Live Twice.

“Roxy has been in storage at Shonai airport, Japan, since the circumnavigation was put on hold last autumn because of weather conditions and bureaucratic delays,” Mr Surplus wrote in his online blog from Japan.

“But as the weather is set to clear and the bureaucratic problems are solved it was time to dust off the rotors, put all the bits back together and, following engine test runs earlier this week, take to the air again.” On Monday, the supposed first day of test flying, a massive snow storm grounded everything.

Then the first test flight was delayed by a heavy rain storm which crossed the area.

“The rain did clear and it was a relief to finally don the famous red flying suit, start the engine and set the rotor turning, and for the first time in many months Roxy taxied out to take to the air again.”

Norman, a wind farm director who beat bowel cancer in 2003, set off on the 27,000-mile adventure from Sandy Bay in Larne in March 2010. He had planned to fly across Europe, past the Egyptian pyramids, over Saudi Arabia, over India, Asia and Russia, along the Canadian Rockies into the USA, round the tip of Greenland and through Iceland before returning home via the Faroe Islands, all in 115 days.

But the expedition has been dogged by delays — the longest of which saw him stranded in Thailand for seven weeks after a crash in high winds followed by months of bureaucratic wrangling in China over flight permits.

timeline

March 2010: Norman successfully takes off from Sandy Bay in Larne, Co Antrim.

May 2010: Norman crashes into a Thai lake, causing serious damage to the aircraft which was grounded for three months.

Sept 2010: He suspends his epic round-the-world journey in the face of extreme weather.

May 2011: Returns to the Philippines but cannot get a flight permit across China.

June 2011: Appeals to Japanese authorities for permission to fly.

July 2011: Gyrocopter is put into storage in Japan.

March 2012: Resuming journey from Shonai Airport, Japan.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph