Belfast Telegraph

Gyrocopter pilot Norman sets 19 world records on his epic journey

By Rebecca Black

A Larne man who beat cancer has officially set an incredible 19 new world records - a year after he touched down after a hair-raising long-distance flight.

Norman Surplus set out in 2010 to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a gyrocopter.

However, he was beset with a series of unlucky setbacks - which included crash landing in a lake in Thailand followed by a lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful battle with the Russian authorities for permission to fly over its airspace.

Plucky Norman made it across Europe and Asia before he was forced to stop. He then regrouped and restarted from the US and eventually made it home to the Sandy Bay fields in Larne, where he landed last year.

Despite the problems, Norman still managed to set an amazing 19 FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale) world records.

Norman said these have now been officially recognised and placed in the record books.

He said he is most pleased with his record for crossing the Atlantic, flying from Belfast in the US state of Maine to Larne.

"The most significant of these was to set and claim the Blue Riband record for the first ever crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an autogyro type aircraft, something that has only been attempted once (to date) and was successfully achieved after a long wait of 92 years since the first autogyro flight took place in 1923," said Norman.

"Due to delays en route for weather, maintenance and permissions, the average speed for the whole Atlantic crossing course was a very modest 5.3km/h. This is hopefully a time/speed that will be easily improved upon in the future.

"Indeed, I look forward to congratulating the next gyro pilot holder of this Blue Riband Atlantic crossing, as to successfully complete this course is both an extremely physical and mental challenge that reaches significantly beyond all others that I experienced during any other of my flights across the globe.

"It felt very much as if I was on a pioneering, solo, open cockpit adventure; such an experience that could easily have come straight out of the 1920s and 30s.

"It may not have been fast, it may not have been exact, it may not have been neat; but it was achieved safely ... and it was a first."

Norman battled cancer in 2003, and it was while he was recovering from chemotherapy in 2004 that he set himself the goal of becoming the first to fly around the world in a gyrocopter, the flying machine made famous by the James Bond movie Live and Let Die.

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