Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland man Norman Surplus completes first round-the-world autogyro flight

Record breaker Norman Surplus with his gyrocopter
Record breaker Norman Surplus with his gyrocopter

Larne adventurer Norman Surplus has become the first person to fly around the globe in a autogyro.

He completed his almost decade-long journey on Friday evening when he landed in the United States.

The 54-year-old cancer survivor's mammoth flight covered 27,000 miles and 32 countries.

An autogyro is a small, helicopter-like aircraft made famous by the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Mr Surplus first took up the challenge in 2010, however it was hampered when he was denied permission to fly over a section of Russia.

With the issue resolved, he set out on Easter Monday to complete his epic journey, which took him to England, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia, before he flew 5,000 miles east to west across Russia through seven different time zones.

He then travelled to the US and landed at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in the state of Oregon to officially become the first person to achieve the feat.

It wasn't all plain flying, however, as the Larne man had to battle freezing temperatures - including flying over the coldest place on Earth in Siberia - and mechanical difficulties. In Thailand, he even crashed into a lake.

Mr Surplus thanked all those who offered him messages of support and encouragement throughout his journey.

"To arrive back at the same place, approaching from an entirely different direction from the one you set off on, can only be achieved by venturing right around the other side of the globe to get there," he said.

"It is a very odd, yet very special feeling. It cannot be achieved without tackling, head on, some of the biggest challenges that the extremes of climate and physical geography that the Earth can throw at you.

"And all of these challenges have had to be tackled unseen, worked out for the first time, made up as you go along, such is the pioneering nature of such an unscripted maiden flight."

During his previous attempted to circumnavigate the globe, Mr Surplus managed to set 19 new world records, including the record for flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean in his autogyro.

The Larne adventurer battled cancer in 2003 and set himself the challenge of completing the epic flight while recovering from chemotherapy - a feat he has now finally achieved.

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