INTREPID adventurer Norman Surplus has reflected on what was an “extremely frustrating” year for him, as his planned round-the-world expedition remains in limbo.
The Larne pilot, who is aiming to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a gyrocopter, has already travelled over 8,000 miles and visited 18 countries in his little yellow flying machine since departing from Sandy Bay back in 2010.
But the expedition suffered a major setback in May, when Norman found his path blocked by the Russian authorities, who are refusing to grant him permission to fly over their airspace.
This bureaucratic blockade meant Norman had to put his record-breaking mission on hold for the third time, as the Arctic winter made his onward route across the Bering Sea impassible.
And on his online blog, Norman has taken a look back at the challenges he encountered during 2012.
He said: “It began well enough; initial spring time optimism pointed towards a timely return to the circumnavigation record attempt once the Bering Sea became unfrozen.
“But late spring slipped steadily into summer without any sign of the elusive, but still very necessary, Russian flight permission being granted.
“Seemingly endless negotiations continued throughout the summer months and as if in an exact replay of this same time last year, we now still find ourselves remaining firmly stuck in Japan for a second winter.
“Looking back on the year, I spent most of the summer simply waiting. I was constantly hoping for improving news from Russia – in fact any news coming out of Russia would have be seen as good progress – and thus kept the project in a constant state of readiness to immediately fly on towards Alaska, once the green light would be given by the Russian Authorities.
“All well and good, only the green light never came, and at times it felt like the traffic lights had been decommissioned and were unable to give out any signals at all.”
However, remaining ever the optimist, Norman refuses to give up and is determined to complete his epic journey.
He added: “The encouraging news going forward into the New Year is that I have finally managed to make contact with a highly regarded Far East Russian navigator, who is willing to assist and accompany me on the onward journey in late May 2013.”
Anyone interested in following Norman’s exploits can do so by visiting www.gyroxgoesglobal.com