Gyro pilot Norman puts journey on ice

Norman Surplus has once again been forced to temporarily call off his global record attempt.  INLT 52-607-CON

Norman Surplus has once again been forced to temporarily call off his global record attempt. INLT 52-607-CON

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A Larne man’s quest to become the first person to fly around the world in a gyrocopter has suffered another major setback.

Intrepid pilot Norman Surplus departed from Sandy Bay in Larne back in March 2010 on his epic journey.

But the father-of-two has been at a standstill since summer 2011 when he found his onward route blocked by the Russian Civil Aviation Authorities, who are refusing to grant him permission to fly over their airspace.

Having repeatedly appealed to the Russian government to allow him passage over their country – even going as far as writing directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin – Norman’s pleas have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears.

And his alternative plan to bypass Russia by flying to the Aleutian Islands – a chain of volcanic islands located in the Northern Pacific Ocean – is no longer on the cards due to the encroaching Arctic winter weather.

The Larne man has now been forced to put his expedition into hibernation for yet another year.

Having returned to his Sandy Bay home in Larne after a three-month stint in Japan – where his aircraft is currently hangared – Norman is now taking some time out to review his options.

But, after dedicating more than three years of his life to this amazing expedition, cancer-survivor Norman refuses to call it a day and is determined to see it through.

He told the Times: “There are still some options with Russia that we haven’t tried as yet and also there is the idea of possibly shipping the aircraft by sea directly to the US west coast to simply avoid Russia completely.

“Unfortunately this would make the world circumnavigation record unattainable as part of the journey would have been completed by sea transport.

“But it would allow me to continue on the journey in the spring of 2014 and at least be able to fly the second half back home from the US west coast. It would perhaps allow a coast-to-coast record to be set flying across America and would also see the first ever crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an autogyro aircraft.

“Skipping over Russia is currently my plan B, as I am still hopeful a solution can be found. In the meantime, I am just enjoying being at home with my family.”

To keep up to date with Norman’s progress and find out more information about his incredible mission, visit his website www.gyroxgoesglobal.com