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Friday, September 17, 2010

'I won't be grounded for long' - autogyro pilot

BACK on home soil after a six-month journey by autogyro, adventurer Norman Surplus said he is all fired-up to finish his epic voyage.
The Larne man has managed to get half-way on his round-the-world trip, landing in the Philippines last week after flying 16,000kms from his starting point at playing fields near his home in March.

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Norman Surplus
Norman Surplus

Dangerous weather conditions forecast for the next stages of his route forced him to take a break.

The 47-year-old has already crossed Europe, Africa and most of Asia, and will resume next March in the Philippines, from where he will fly on to Japan, Taiwan and Russia before crossing to Alaska and the United States.

The finale will be his flight across the north Atlantic and he may be joined by a host of other autogyros when he makes his triumphant landing in Larne next summer.

Norman's inspiration for the record-breaking flight came from a daytime television programme he watched in 2003 while recuperating from intensive chemotherapy to treat bowel cancer.

"The first time I ever saw an autogyro was in a James Bond film and I was fascinated but, like a lot of things in those films, I thought it was more fanciful," he said.

"I forgot about it for years, then when I was in the hospital and watching daytime television, there was a programme on about restoration and it was featuring a single seater autogyro.

"I then looked it up online and found a place in Cumbria that had some models."

Norman's wife Celia is from England and, while visiting her family, the couple stopped off in Cumbria to have a closer look at some of the autogyros.

As he was getting to grips with training to fly one, army helicopter pilot Barry Jones was attempting to be the first to fly an autogyro around the world.

He did not succeed. Norman felt sure someone else would try it – but when they didn't, he decided he would go for it.

While enjoying his home comforts and spending time with his wife and two sons, Norman will also be using his break to pen a book about his experiences.

"I initially was going to do a book about the whole thing, but now I may write one about the first part and maybe have a sequel," he said.

While Norman is starting to be known all around the world for his autogyro exploits, he is already a familiar character in Larne with his "yellow bumblebee", as his autogyro is known.

He now has thousands of fans around the world following his progress on his online blog and satellite tracker which plots his current position on a map on his website.

"I have been amazed by the kindness of strangers, people you don't know put you up in their home and take you around their country," he said.

"It is always better when locals do that than staying in a hotel near the airport where the only experience you get of the country is talking to the waiter. I have stayed in everything from palatial houses to six-dollar hotels."

Celia said she worries about her husband when he is away but that she believes he is in more danger on a motorway.

She has not yet gone up in Norman's two-seater autogyro – which is currently in the Philippines awaiting his return – but said when he finishes his round-the-world voyage, the pair will head off to Scotland for lunch in it.

For more information about Norman's adventure, log on to http://www.gyroxgoesglobal.com

Posted via email from Aviation Professionals dot Org

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