GYROCOPTER man Norman Surplus is hopeful that the completion of his epic round the world flight could be just a matter of months away.
The Larne pilot 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 a spring restart of his incredible expedition – provided he can overcome the red tape that lies ahead.
The father-of-two is currently locked in negotiations with the Russian authorities to allow him to fly into Vladivostok on May 18 and continue his journey. All being well, he expects to then arrive home in Larne around mid-July.
If he is granted permission to fly over Russian airspace, Norman will face the most logistically demanding leg of his expedition. The remote regions of the Far East have no roads, which means no cars or petrol supplies, and the settlements en route will be very basic.
And worse, the sub-Arctic climate will mean the spring conditions will be more like the British winter, so regular snow showers cannot be ruled out.
Despite all this, Norman remains in good spirits and is hugely excited about getting back in the air.
He said: “I am looking forward to experiencing this true wilderness terrain, much like the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the jungles of Borneo, which I have already passed. I am expecting to be constantly amazed at the sights that this inhospitable terrain can offer up and who knows, I might even catch a glimpse of a Sasquatch (or Bigfoot) that are supposed to live in this remote region?”
Anyone who wants to follow Norman’s high-flying exploits can do so at www.gyroxgoesglobal.com or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000769639636