Globetrotting Norman reflects on his five-year gyro odyssey

Norman Surplus takes an impressive 'selfie' while flying over Greenland in his gyrocopter.  INLT 32-678-CON
Norman Surplus takes an impressive 'selfie' while flying over Greenland in his gyrocopter. INLT 32-678-CON

The dust may have settled on his round-the-world adventure, but Larne pilot Norman Surplus is still living on cloud nine.

The intrepid trailblazer returned to his home town last month, having travelled to more than a dozen countries and set a total of 17 world records during his epic five-year voyage in a gyrocopter.

And the 52-year-old bowel cancer survivor is now enjoying a well-earned rest at home with his wife Celia and two kids, Petra and Felix.

Norman’s next mission is to compile the multitude of experiences that occurred throughout his trip and piece them together into a book.

The father-of-two said: “There is a lot of information to try and condense into a coherent narrative, but I am looking forward to the challenge.

“The book will be a light-hearted series of anecdotes, stitched together by the story of my round-the-world quest.

“It will detail the people I met along the way, the scrapes and lucky escapes, the frustrations of dealing with bureaucracy, the whole gambit really.”

Reflecting on his adventure – which was originally intended to last a matter of months – the record-breaker said: “I never could have envisaged that the journey would last as long as it did, but it was an amazing experience and one which has left me a lot wiser.

“I gained a lot of knowledge of different cultures, as well as a sense of the basic humanity that is shared by people in countries across the globe.”

Norman’s expedition took him to a range of climates, from the scorching deserts of the Middle East to the harsh isolation of Greenland.

But no matter which country he visited, the daredevil pilot was always met with the same sense of wonder and admiration for what he was endeavouring to accomplish.

“My mission to fly around the world in this tiny yellow aircraft was something that united everyone and transcended barriers,” Norman added.

“I met so many kind people, and without their help this expedition would not have been possible.”

While Norman was embraced with open arms and surrounded by well-wishers when he had his feet on the ground, it was an altogether different experience when he took to the skies.

Norman said: “Flying solo, as the name implies, can be a very lonely business, especially in the most remote and hazardous corners of the world.”

Despite the feeling of isolation Norman experienced at times, he admitted that the North Atlantic leg of the flight was one of the highlights of his journey.

This portion of the expedition saw Norman and his little yellow flying machine (nicknamed Roxy) traverse the frozen landscape of Greenland, before island hopping to Iceland, the Faroe Islands and back to the UK.

“That was always going to be the most technically challenging and physically demanding section of the flight,” he told the Times.

“It was almost as if everything leading up to that was the warm-up; training me for what lay ahead.

“It was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and made it all the more special.”

For the final leg of his adventure, Norman was joined by some of his gyro pals for the short flight from Oban, Scotland back to Sandy Bay in Larne, where his journey first began in March 2010.

Crowds of well-wishers turned out to greet Norman as he brought the curtain down on his incredible odyssey.

“There were mixed emotions about touching down for the last time,” he admitted.

“I was glad to be back home in Larne, but there was also a sense of melancholy that it was all over.”

One of the keys aims of Norman’s expedition was to raise awareness and funds for the charity Bowel Cancer UK, and he stressed he is still accepting donations for this worthy cause.

“We have a target of £10,000, so any contributions will be most welcome,” he concluded.

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