Norman issues plea to President Putin

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LARNE adventurer Norman Surplus has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to help him complete his record-breaking round the world flight.

The intrepid pilot, who is attempting to fly into the history books by becoming the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a gyrocopter, has been locked in negotiations with the Russian Civil Aviation Authorities for almost two years as they continue to refuse him permission to fly over their airspace.

And the father-of-two has admitted he may be forced to abandon his epic quest if he doesn’t get the green light soon.

In a last ditch effort to save his amazing expedition from failure, Norman has appealed directly to President Putin, who is due to join other world leaders at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland next month.

In his letter to the Russian Premier, cancer-survivor Norman stressed that travelling through Russian airspace was the only route available to him and his gyrocopter, which he affectionately calls Roxy.

The basic geography of the planet means that the well-established Bering Sea crossing route is the only realistic way that any small type of aircraft can hope to cross the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. There simply is no alternative route to use.

Time is now the biggest factor for Norman, as he can only cross the Bering Sea in the few brief Arctic summer months. If he stands any chance of making the crossing, consent from Russia needs to come through in the next few weeks.

Pleading his case to President Putin, Norman added: “I am very pleased to hear that you are planning to attend the 39th G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Resort in my homeland of Northern Ireland. I am sure you will be afforded a warm welcome in our very small, but very beautiful country. Simply put, as you are to be hosted in my country, I could be similarly hosted in yours.”

Since setting off on his incredible journey from Larne’s Sandy Bay back in 2010, Norman has traversed 18 countries and has faced forest fires, emergency landing in a desert and a crash landing in a Thai lake.

But the 49-year-old adventurer has been forced to wait, very patiently, in Japan since late July 2011 while Russian authorities have been processing his onward flight permission.

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It is an administration task that Norman said is normally only supposed to take 14 days.

The gyrocopter, which predates its more glamorous rotary cousin the helicopter by decades, is the last remaining type of aircraft that has yet to fly around the world. Norman believes his expedition will prove that the craft – best known for its appearance in a James Bond film – can be used as a serious form of flight.

And, having survived bowel cancer about 10 years ago, Norman also hopes his amazing expedition will help raise funds and awareness for cancer charities across the globe.

If Norman receives the all-clear to fly over Russia, he will continue across the Bering Sea to Alaska and into Canada. He will then travel coast-to-coast across North America, followed by flights to Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Scotland and back to Larne for a warm welcome home.