The former video game designer and lifeboat captain from Larne – who in 2019 became the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a gyrocopter – had been suffering from bowel cancer.
A message from the family posted on the Norman Surplus Facebook page on Wednesday night said he had “suddenly passed away” at his home.
“He was so much more than the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a gyrocopter, and although he may have lived enough adventures to last several lifetimes, to those who crossed his path in life, he will always be remembered most for being a kind hearted human who just wanted the best for people, He will be immensely missed,” the notice said.
It added: “Thank you for following his story,” and also included a note about the book Mr Surplus was planning to publish in the near future.
“As Norman mentioned in his final post, the book is thankfully fully complete,” it said.
“We received the first quality check copies this morning and they look wonderful. We fully intend to make sure that the book will be in your hands as soon as possible, but we will still have to work out some small problems given the circumstances.
“Thank you for understanding. preorders are still available at www.firstgyro.net.”
The first mammoth solo flight started in 2010 and was supposed to last just a few months, however, due to bureaucratic wrangling over permission to use Russian airspace, it was almost five years to arrive back in his hometown of Larne.
The undeterred father-of-two spent years battling for clearance – appealing directly to president Vladimir Putin – in a bid to continue his quest for the record, and eventually completed the full circumnavigation in late 2019.
Hundreds of people on social media have paid their own tributes to the popular Larne native.
One friend said: “A lovely man, a brave man, an inspiration to so many, and one who very definitely has left his mark on this world. A life well lived. RIP Norman.”
Another said: “As the tributes here show, anyone who encountered the intrepid Norman was the better for it. He packed more into his too short life than most of the rest of us combined.”