RECORD-BREAKING Larne pilot Norman Surplus is poised to recommence his incredible round the world flight in a gyrocopter.
With the arctic spring time fast approaching, the 49-year-old is gearing up for the most technically challenging leg of his journey; traversing the vast, remote wilderness of the Russian Far East.
The settlements Norman will be visiting on this section of the expedition are very isolated and there will be few if any roads in some places, which will present a major logistical problem for the father-of-two in terms of access to fuel, food and accommodation.
But as usual, Norman remains upbeat in the face of adversity and is hopeful that he and his autogyro - which he has affectionately dubbed Roxy - can successfully negotiate the inhospitable landscape.
“There are airstrips of sorts in just enough of these settlements to allow a transit to be possible and thankfully a gyro can perform very short take offs and landings using some fairly unprepared surfaces,” he said.
“The Russian authorities are currently making final checks with the en route airfields to make certain that they are currently open, secure and available after the long winter of isolation and ready to receive our flight.
“Once we have the final go ahead from Russia then we have to wait for the Japanese authorities to have their turn at playing with the red tape machine, to process my exit clearance to allow me to fly out of Japanese airspace.
“This can be a fairly lengthy exercise, lasting several weeks, drawing on our previous experiences of flight applications.
“Finally, once the bureaucratic ‘made by man’ permissions are all in order, I can then give some considerable thought to the physical ‘made by mother nature’ permissions, primarily those of climate and weather patterns en route for the lengthy open water crossing of the Sea of Japan.
“As we have seen, the climate has already dictated a wait in Japan for nine months since the last summer season, but the weather and crucially the wind (both strength and direction) will of course have the final say on the day,” he added.
Norman set out on his record-breaking journey from Sandy Bay over two years ago, and has so far blazed a trial across half the globe, stopping at more than a dozen countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the Philippines and most recently Japan.
But Norman’s arch-enemy in his quest to become the first man to circumnavigate the world in an autogyro has been bureaucracy, which has plagued him every step of the way.
Having been forced to abandon his aircraft in Japan last autumn and return home to wait out the winter, Norman is now looking forward to restarting his amazing adventure - provided he can overcome the red tape that lies ahead.