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Back to earth for gyrocopter man Norman Surplus

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Norman Surplus

Norman Surplus

Norman Surplus    leaves  Larne in his autogyro. March 22, 2010

Norman Surplus leaves Larne in his autogyro. March 22, 2010

JUSTIN KERNOGHAN

Norman Surplus    leaves  Larne in his autogyro. March 22, 2010

Norman Surplus leaves Larne in his autogyro. March 22, 2010

JUSTIN KERNOGHAN

Norman Surplus    leaves  Larne in his autogyro. March 22, 2010

Norman Surplus leaves Larne in his autogyro. March 22, 2010

JUSTIN KERNOGHAN

Norman Surplus

An intrepid adventurer determined to fly around the world in a James Bond-style gyrocopter has hit another snag in his epic journey.

Norman Surplus has made international headlines as he attempts to become the first man to circumnavigate the world in an autogyro.

The father-of-two has already flown 8,000 miles through Europe, the Middle East and much of Asia but is now stranded in the Philippines, having been refused permission to fly through Chinese airspace.

The 48-year-old, from Larne, Co Antrim, is instead appealing to the Japanese aviation authorities to grant him permission to fly across Japan so he can continue his world record attempt.

Norman has spent months trying to persuade the Chinese to allow him to fly one of the two viable routes out of the Philippines - but to no avail. Time is ticking as the intrepid pilot needs to get airborne during the brief 'Arctic summer' window to complete his journey.

In a desperate plea on his website, Norman describes the Japanese as his "last hope" and appeals for "all the loyal supporters out there to help bring this phase of the journey to a satisfying conclusion" and contact Japanese authorities on his behalf. Gaining a flight permit is a particular challenge because such a flight in an unusual aircraft has never taken place before.

The businessman decided to take on the adventure after he survived bowel cancer and is using the publicity from the trip to raise awareness and funds for Bowel Cancer UK.

He was hospitalised with bowel cancer in 2003 and was given just a 40% chance of survival. While in hospital he saw a gyrocopter being restored in a TV programme. "It was then that I promised to myself that once I had recovered I would learn to fly one," he said.

Norman's mode of transport is more akin to a past age of great adventurers who circumnavigated the globe fully exposed to the elements.

The open cockpit has seen Norman face extreme heat and cold, fuel shortages, exceptionally high altitude and other dangers along the way.

Yet Norman, who affectionately calls the little yellow machine 'Roxy', is determined to fly a further 19,000 miles to finish his adventure.

He started his epic journey from Sandy Bay at Lough Neagh in March last year in what was to be a four-month trip.

Last September he was forced to temporarily abandon the journey due to the harsh winter conditions of the Bering Sea in an open cockpit.

He suspended the expedition until the spring when he returned to Angeles City in the Philippines, where Roxy had been in storage.

However, despite encountering a number of challenges on the way, Norman remains optimistic of flying his way into the record books.

Timeline

  • March 2010 Norman successfully takes off from Sandy Bay at Lough Neagh, 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.


Belfast Telegraph


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