Paperwork stalls gyrocopter adventure

ULSTER's record breaking autogyro explorer is this week gearing up to take on one of the toughest challenges of his round the world trip – crossing the Pacific ocean.

However Larne cancer survivor Norman Surplus's incredible air adventure is being held up by paperwork in the Philippines.

The 47-year-old has flown tens of thousands of miles across 15 countries battling typhoons and electrical storms as well as recovering from a watery crash into a lake in Thailand. But he is now facing a delay in receiving permission to fly on to the next country in his schedule.

He is flying in an iconic yellow autogyro and aiming to become the first person to fly around the world in one of the crafts which is best known from appearances in classic films such as The 39 Steps and the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Norman told the News Letter that he hoped to be on his way to the next stop at Taiwan this week before visiting Japan and Russia and then taking on the Pacific to land in the United States.

Norman, who was at Woodland Air Park near Angeles City on the island of Luzon, plans to be airborne within days, but he said that one of the most difficult parts of his voyage is battling with paperwork.

However it has not all been bad news, Norman said he was delighted to hear that his name is to be added to the Flammable Stanley Cup for Cancer Survivors.

The Stanley Cup is a famous north American ice hockey trophy, this project aims to create a replica of the cup on which the names of cancer survivors are being engraved to celebrate them and give hope to those battling the disease now.

The cup will be made of flammable materials so that it can burnt as a beacon of hope at the Burning Man Festival in San Francisco.

Norman beat bowel cancer and is raising money for the charity Bowel Cancer UK through his journey.

Meanwhile as people in Britain enjoy a month of airshows and remembrance services commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Norman said the autogyro played an important but often forgotten role in this period.

The RAF had their first gyrocopter in 1934 and by 1940 were using them to assist the new secret radar sites to calibrate their equipment.

"They were instructed to fly out to a known distance and height, the radar operators could then use their position to tune their equipment to make it more accurate at spotting enemy bombers and fighters approaching the south coast of England during the Battle of Britain," Norman explained, describing the autogyro as the "true unsung hero from the Battle of Britain".

Readers can keep up with Norman's travels by logging on to his website at www.gyroxgoesglobal.com, where his location is being tracked via satellite.