Sunday, June 2, 2013

Having a Rubbery Time In Japan: Part Two

As promised here is the second part of Norman's blog explaining the work that is underway to get 'Roxy' ready for a speedy departure from Japan when the hoped for Russian permits come through. This section follows on from part one where Norman explained the need to replace the rubber hoses that criss cross the whole of the engine and pulse the lifeblood - oil, fuel and coolant - around the aircraft to keep it flying. These had to be checked and replaced ready for the all important CAA inspection. Norman continues...


Part 2

How best to run the engine up to operating temperature and give it a good workout on the ground? It’s quite easy in our case with the help of a strong rope and a good anchor point to tie off to. We attached the rope to the keel at the rear most point of the Gyro (under the Rudder) then attached the other end to a large eye bolt on the back of the spare luggage handling machine on the apron. We were then able to happily run the engine to full power while the Gyro was held stationary, pulling against the rope. Continuous full power was thus achieved for some minutes and the systems could be fully checked.
With some eager helping hands from the airport fire brigade, Norman re-attaches a blade to the Hub bar. Note the bolts neatly lined up ready to be fitted and the sturdy shopping basket!

The other main task prior to CAA inspection was to remount the main rotor on top of the mast. During the severe winter weather that Shonai endures, the snow can build up to perhaps 2 metres, conditions which are definitely not ideal for flying in an open topped aircraft! So, as with last year, during the main winter months I have removed the main rotor, splitting the two blades apart and storing these separately to the aircraft.

The first task now was to re-attach the blades to the Hub Bar. The whole rotor is slightly coned upwards when it sits on the aircraft as the slightly bent Hub Bar (sitting in the middle), angles both blades upwards by a small amount at their roots. Gravity then makes the tips of the blades sag when at rest, but when the aircraft weight comes to hang off the spinning rotor during flight, the rotor takes on its natural shallow cone shape again and thus reduces the stress felt overall by the blades. This means while re-attaching the blades to the Hub Bar, the middle of the rotor has to be kept higher than the tips and we use an old plastic shopping basket for support. It’s perfect for this operation! ( note: the whole rotor is upside down at this point - to tighten the Hub bar bolts)
At times like this an overhead crane comes in useful!

Re-mounting can be a tricky job if done by hand, the two blades which are bolted to the Hub bar in the middle can be lifted by one person but they are quite heavy and very unwieldy to move into position single handed. Much better then to use a crane hoist and very luckily I am able to borrow the services of one of these at the airport! Even better still, I usually have about 6 firemen volunteering to hold the rotor steady and manoeuvre the gyro directly under the blades….      

With the main rotor successfully attached, we were then able to take to the airport apron for some taxi ground manoeuvres and check that the Pre-rotator system (the device that spins the rotors up prior to takeoff) was functioning properly. Some final cleaning and tidying followed and we were now ready for inspection.
Roxy is looking pristine as she and Norman undergo taxiing trials in the Shonai Airport sunshine.

Keeping the aircraft legal and ready to fly has been a constant challenge each year that the flight has been out of the UK and this year has been no exception. Very luckily through discussions with the UK CAA, this year we were able to come up with a very neat, 2 part solution. Part 1 - my normal CAA surveyor, Brian Spurle visited me three weeks ago (at home) to check and audit the aircraft’s paperwork files (a now weighty tome that would be difficult to ship around the world) and Part 2 - another CAA surveyor, Paul Farrel, happened to be in Nagoya Japan with other work during late May and so was able to make a weekend day trip visit up to Shonai to conduct the physical inspection part of the survey. This innovative 2 part plan worked out very well and I am pleased to say that overall, through this cooperative approach we managed to re-permit G-YROX quite smoothly. 
CAA inspector, Paul Farrel shakes hands with Norman as Roxy passes her inspection.

So with “Permit to Fly” safely in hand for another year, all we now need is the elusive Russian “Permission to fly”…..

Cheers, Norman

So, with everything now ready for the resumption of the circumnavigation all we can do is hope and wait for the elusive permits from the Russians. If you haven't already done so then could you please help Norman's case by writing a letter to President Putin stating the need to let Norman fly through Russia, mentioning that it is for a good cause and that the world is watching and waiting. You can write a short message to the President via this link...
Thank you.

The Gyrox Team



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Having a Rubbery Time in Japan!

As Norman waits patiently in Japan to see whether the latest appeal to President Putin is successful, preparations to get 'Roxy' ready for the next flight continue apace. 

Norman has kindly sent us some photos showing the first stage in getting Roxy ready for the all important CAA inspection and in his own words describes the action...

Having a Rubbery Time in Japan!

One of the big challenges this spring, apart from seeking the elusive Russian entry permission… was the fact that the aircraft engine would need some additional maintenance over and above its normal routine servicing. As a precaution, Rotax engines are obliged to have all their rubber components changed periodically to prevent the rubber ageing and weakening while attached on the engine, which in turn could lead to leaks. So it was this year that I needed to arrange this task to be performed before the next CAA annual re-permitting inspection that allows the aircraft to fly on for another year. 
Jay Cook, like a surgeon, prepares for the clinical procedure ahead.

New Hoses, seals and gaskets were duly ordered up and I brought them out to Japan in a very battered old suitcase with only one roll along wheel….a bit too battered as it turned out as the dishevelled, Jet lagged foreigner limping along on one wheel in the ultra efficient Tokyo Haneda International Airport terminal soon drew the attention of the Customs men at security…some probing questions followed about the somewhat bizarre contents of my suitcase, but my equally bizarre explanation of needing all these rubber attachments to fix onto my own 5 metre long aircraft that I had flown all the way from the UK seemed to miraculously placate them - perhaps they are very used to seeing all the best jet setting international pilots roll up with one wheel missing on their luggage…
Make sure you remember how it all goes back in again!

The next piece of the maintenance jigsaw involved the reappearance of a previous GGG stalwart, namely Jay Cook, who seasoned blog readers may remember looked after Roxy in the Philippines during the winter of 2010-11. Jay volunteered to give me a hand with the hose change out job and duly arrived with tools and knowhow to lead the task of removing all the old hoses and replace with the new.
All go in the temporary GGG workshop

Now to look at a Rotax 914 Engine, you could easily be lost as to where to start with the Rubber Spaghetti that you are faced with. There are separate hose systems for oil, water coolant, air and fuel along with some further rubber components hidden deep within the carburettors. However taking one system at a time, we soon worked our way around, although not without plenty of battling with some of the more obstinate hose clips who would conspire to position themselves in the most awkward angles and hard to reach places. As Jay accurately predicted on the first day, we would probably both end up losing some skin on our knuckles in the coming week…
The scrapped engine hoses that had seen Norman and Roxy halfway around the globe.

Draining, changing out and then refilling the systems with their respective fluids, we then had the slightly nervous but most satisfying sensation of knowing there were no leaks and that all the tasks were complete. Engine testing followed to purge the systems of any possible trapped air and give all the seals a proper check while the engine was up to operating temperatures. With great relief on my part, the engine fired up first time and I am happy to report is now running very well again.

The final task was to meticulously go around all the newly installed pipework and check that there would be no rubbing or chafing on any surfaces. A quick trip to the local “Ninja boot shop” (see blog 29 Dec 2011) secured 2 metres of best quality, clear, reinforced, “aviation grade” (well, almost!) garden hose and yet another pack of cable ties (which along with Velcro is surely one of the all time best inventions of the 20th Century) with which to protect and sleeve any vulnerable hose sections.
Norman and the Shonai Airport Fire crew give the thumbs up to a job well done .

So the hoses were now complete but we still had to pass the CAA inspection…more in part 2, coming soon.


We will of course bring you part two of the preparations for the resumption of the world record breaking flight and to help make sure that it does go ahead please remember to keep sending those letters to President Putin requesting he let Norman fly through the east of Russia and complete this special project. The link to send letters is...

The Gyrox Team


Monday, May 27, 2013

A Personal Plea to Putin

As the months have rolled by, Norman, still ensconced in Shonai Airport, Japan, where Roxy has been housed since July 2011, has been resolutely trying to gain permission to enter Russian airspace to continue his record breaking circumnavigation of the globe in an autogyro/gyrocopter.
At every step he has been hampered by bureaucracy, secrecy and at times deaf ears. Frustration is now Norman's middle name.
Of course this lack of movement by the Russian authorities has kept us back at team HQ very quiet, not publishing too much in case we rock the boat in any way, but as we reach the 3rd year of this quest Norman has decided to bypass the usual paths of the Russian Civil aviation maze and go straight to the top...President Putin himself!

A few weeks ago, Norman decided to write a personal letter to the Russian President showcasing his plight in trying to do the simple feat of flying in the far Eastern portion of this huge country. He also showed in the letter that he has fulfilled all requirements subjected by the Russian Civil Aviation Authority and this includes hiring a Russian navigator to ride with him in Roxy. There appears to be no reason for the Russians not to grant a permit to fly there...but the latest attempt has effectively been met by a brick wall.

So why has Norman decided to write to President Putin now? It just so happens that on the 17th and 18th June this year the 39th G8 Summit of the world's top economically powerful countries will meet at the beautiful Lough Erne estate in Northern Ireland, not far from where Norman lives and the Gyrox adventure began. Amongst the G8 countries attending will be the UK, USA and of course...Russia with President Putin headlining the list of world leaders.

With this in mind, Norman has written to President Putin reminding him of the exceptionally warm welcome he will receive from the Northern Irish people and that it would show good faith on his behalf if the authorities could show the same kind of welcome to Norman and his little aircraft, after all, his flight is not just a record breaking flight but is raising awareness and funds for a number of Cancer charities.

Here is the letter Norman sent to the President...

An open letter to President Putin of the Russian Federation.
Dear Mr Putin,
My Name is Norman Surplus 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!
Currently, I am attempting to set an official FAI world record journey to make the first circumnavigation of the globe flying an Autogyro/Gyrocopter aircraft and to date, have made great progress flying through 18 consecutive countries from Northern Ireland, through Europe, Middle East, India and S.E. Asia to reach Japan. However, now I have been stuck (for almost two years) trying to get permission to fly through the Russia’s Far Eastern region to be allowed to fly onwards from Japan to reach Alaska. This is the only routing that is available to my small open cockpit aircraft to enable me to cross the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and making this short Bering Sea Crossing is only possible in the brief Arctic summer months. After crossing the North American continent I will then fly on through Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands to reach Scotland and then back home to my starting point in the port town of Larne in Northern Ireland.  
So far, I have been making all my applications (via the British Embassy) to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow for permission to fly across Russia, however we have had great difficulty in being given permission as my British Registered aircraft needs to fly outside (or below) the commercial international airways and also use some small, non-international airfields en route. Out of the 18 countries so far flown, Russia has proved to be the only country where this permission has proved to be so difficult. Being such an unusual request it is now thought that a special exemption / permission given directly from the Russian Government/ Presidents office would be needed to allow this flight to proceed and this is the reason for my sending this letter and appealing directly to you at this time.   
The circumnavigation flight is a small scale, non commercial venture, raising awareness and funds for Cancer charities. As per the rules for foreign aircraft flying within Russian domestic airspace, we already have a very experienced Russian Navigator ready and waiting to assist in the logistics of flying across the Far Eastern Region - a journey which is expected to take approximately 6-7 days.
We are asking to make our entry to Russia (flying in from Northern Japan) in the first week in June 2013. This is the earliest opportunity that the Bering Sea will be made passable by the sub Arctic summer climate and it also allows the flight to proceed with the benefit of very long hours of daylight.  
I therefore make this simple appeal to you directly; purely in the name of improved international cooperation and perhaps it can also be seen as a friendly, non political, non sectarian, “goodwill gesture” between our two countries, promoting the “spirit of outdoor adventure” for which you are well known! Simply put: as you are to be hosted in my country, that I could be similarly hosted in yours….to make a good news story for everyone!!
Best Regards, Norman Surplus

Norman is not putting all his eggs in one basket and is also hoping that we, all Norman's followers, can also write an email to the Kremlin pleading for the President and the authorities to let Norman in so he can continue and finish his amazing and worthwhile flight. You can send your requests to the Kremlin by email to...

This will take you to a website at the Kremlin and you will find a form to fill in and a box where you write your message. Remember to click the button marked 'Letter to President'.
One email may not make much difference but if we get a few hundred sent this week then someone will take notice!

Over the coming days we will keep you updated with any progress and also have a blog about the work done on Roxy to keep her airworthy and be re-certificated after all this time. There should be some nice photos to go with that, so keep watching our media pages for updates.

Good luck with your letters and lets make this a real attempt at getting Norman and Roxy home again.
Norman and Roxy, raring to go....

The Gyrox Team

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Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Message - 2012

As another year comes to a close and we enter the holiday season, Norman has sent us special seasons greeting which includes the first part of a recap of what 2012 held for him during his long stay in Japan whilst waiting for the permission (that sadly never arrived) to continue the circumnavigation.
Always upbeat, here in his own words is Norman's Christmas greeting.

 Christmas 2012

Hello again everyone, well what a fantastic Olympic year 2012 has turned out to be… though unfortunately it has also been an extremely frustrating year for the Gyrox Goes Global project.
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….
However, remaining ever the optimist (at this point I think the GGG motto should read “Spes oritur aeternum”  - hope springs eternal!), 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.   

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 GGG 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 for Go” light never came…in fact at times it felt more like the traffic lights had been decommissioned and unable to give out any signals at all….
Dougie arrives in time to help Norman with the cherry harvest.
I was however able to put the enforced down time to good use and thus embarked on various local projects that would keep me busy. My “gastronaught” puppet co-pilot supplied by Stomawise UK ( Named “Dougie” after Douglas Bader, a very famous disabled pilot) arrived during the summer and he instantly became involved with many of the activities, including assisting in the annual Cherry picking harvest at a local family run farm.  This was a most enjoyable experience, although it also meant a very early start to the day to pick enough Cherries in time for each day’s market.
Rice planting was another wholly fascinating and unusual activity, especially for someone who hails from “Norn Iron” - where  potatoes are our staple feed-stuff
The rice seedlings are cultivated in long polythene tunnels in seed trays and then taken out to be planted in the regular rice fields. Normally the planting out is undertaken by a very bizarre looking, spindly wheeled tractor, but on one occasion I joined an organised community planting day to experience the job of planting the rice out by hand, as it would have been traditionally done many years ago.

It might not look as pretty as a sports car, but the modern planting tractor is definitely the rice farmer’s best friend in the spring time… as trying to plant out a whole field by hand alone must have been very hard work in the past, especially  while you are being baked under the hot spring sunshine…still, at least the oozy, warm mud squeezing through your toes was quite good fun! 
During the summer the rice grows quickly and a clever method is used mid season to combat pests and encourage the eventual yield of the crop. Once planted out with seedlings the fields are initially flooded to help the rice grow rapidly, but this then makes it difficult to enter the field with any large machinery to perform any necessary crop spraying.
 A highly effective solution has emerged in recent years and that is to employ large remote controlled helicopters that can hover just a few metres above the crops. Very specialised teams of remote control pilots (who are often also farmers themselves) are then very active mid season moving from field to field during a few brief hectic weeks work. 
 Rice Harvest season came up next (in early autumn) and I was thus able to complete the full growing cycle by having a lesson at driving a combine harvester.
I was very privileged to actually be allowed to take the controls as rice cultivation, as you can well imagine, is a very serious business in Japan - it proved to be great fun none the less! 

Later in the year, on a day trip over to Sendai, I came across this very peculiar sight - it was a small boy standing outside a shopping centre holding a piece of carrot on the end of a long stick….what on earth was going on?
All was revealed when the small boy duly offered up the carrot to a very well behaved horse! No chance of any bitten fingers here! The horse was part of a promotion for a local riding school and the staff where taking no chances when it came to potential personal injury claims…
Trust the Japanese to have thought of everything!
On the same Sendai trip I spotted an enormous inflatable Japanese Santa hung from the ceiling in a shopping mall, I was especially drawn to his somewhat contradictory jet black hair and white flowing beard….  Complete with umbilical air pipes to keep both he and Rudolf fully pumped up over the festive season, I thought what a perfect way to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
 And in case you are all suffering from aching feet during the endless Christmas shopping trips of late, the Japanese have triumphed once again…..what better solution can be found than by supplying some complementary sofas in your busy department store, especially for the reluctant partners of shopaholics to rest up a while…
Until the next installment…. 
From all at the Gyrox Goes Global team and from myself and my family, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and successful New year, 
Best Wishes

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Deja Vu and Russian Interlude.

Way back in March 2010, none of the people gathered at the playing fields in Larne, Northern Ireland, to watch the departure of Norman Surplus and his tiny flying machine (that would affectionately come to be known as ‘Roxy’) had any idea or inkling that two and a half years later the pair would still be half way around the world waiting to make that final flight back home.
With a strong feeling of Déjà Vu we have to announce that the circumnavigation has had to be put on hold for the winter; once again bureaucracy has forced this brave adventure to stall due to paperwork.

Anyone who has been following the story over the last 12 months will know that Russian permission to fly into and through their country has not been forthcoming, which has meant many days and weeks of pleading and visiting embassies and suchlike. In the end, Norman decided to go and see the people on the ground and put his case to the people involved. This meant a journey to Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East to meet aviators, officials and the local people in an attempt to get them on side for a continuation of the flight next spring…Here, in Norman’s own words, is what happened…

23rd October 2012 saw me taking a “time travelling” journey… flying as a regular passenger with Vladivostok Air.
First, I flew from the 21st century marvels of modern Tokyo (Narita) airport, Japan, directly back in time to the mid 20th century, soviet era, Khabarovsk Airport in the Russian Far East. This was quickly followed by another quantum leap forward again on a connecting flight to the brand new Vladivostok International Airport, a quantum leap forwards perhaps but with a few anomalies which would suggest this was indeed the 21st century, but perhaps in a parallel sort of universe, one where many things would not appear to be exactly as you would expect them to be…
Norman at the sign for Vladivostok

Passing briefly through Khabarovsk Airport I saw a surprising mixture of new and old technologies working in perfect harmony, at one level they employed the seemingly ubiquitous modern X-ray security scanner (set up in the entrance hall), but at the same time they also had the wisdom to employ an airport cat, who busied himself strolling around the same foyer (with an air of self importance worthy of any 1950’s branch line railway station master) confidently greeting various passengers as they arrived. One could only presume that this “old technology rodent catcher” was employed to keep check on any of the more “unwanted customers” who might be lurking under or behind the rows of empty and darkened counters dotted about in the huge expanse of the old soviet style building, a building which had clearly seen many, many better days in the past…. All seemed to be working in perfect harmony however until the cat’s strolling reached the security scanner’s desk, where, in a fantastic display of technology misalignment, the security guard promptly leaned down to stroke the cat rather than keeping a close watch on his screen…would be International smugglers take note - I think I have found a loophole for you - before heading to the airport, simply equip yourself with a remote controlled cat….
Norman at a Vladivostok landmark, celebrating the city's maritime history

First impressions of Vladivostok were similarly surprising, but for very different reasons - the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit was hosted by Vladivostok in September 2012 and it was clear that all the stops had been pulled out to achieve a regeneration of the area worthy of holding such a prestigious global event. A huge new conference centre (soon to become a new campus for Vladivostok University) was constructed on a nearby Island along with 2 fantastic new road bridges, the new International Airport terminal, rail links and miles of new dual carriageways. The city of Vladivostok is a great mixture of architectural styles, reflecting perhaps its colourful history as the principal trading post and sea port of this region for hundreds of years. Some of the heavy shoreline fortifications are still preserved (now in museum form) from the time that the port served as a strong strategic base for the Soviet Pacific Fleet. The port was so well guarded by its shore defences that it is proudly stated that no attempt has ever been made to conquer it from the sea. Such grandeur all around, but with it some quirky anomalies, most noticeable was the number of buildings old and new (even including one of the newly built train stations) where the steps in the stairwells were often not of uniform height. Some would see a good 4-6 cm difference in height from the next tread. Such a basic requisite for safety - treading on evenly spaced steps - you could perhaps forgive the odd 1-2 cm and simply put it down to the builders having a bad day or perhaps suffering from the occasional hangover…. 4-6 cm however perhaps suggests the builders simply never actually reach the hangover stage… 
An aerial view of Vladivostok taken during one of Norman's local flights with the flying club.

My main reason to visit Russia at this time has been to meet with local contacts, Airport officials and flying club members of the Primorsky Flying Club. I was royally treated everywhere I went and my hosts ensured that I experienced a flavour of their real Russian Far East hospitality. 
Norman at the rather rustic but functional clubhouse of the Primorsky Flying Club

Pre-flighting...the Russian way!

Hospitality, that included rapidly drinking at least (!) 5 toasts of very fine Cognac with some local sausage, cheese and chocolate immediately prior to being strapped into a Yak 52 Aerobatic aircraft for a quick 10 minute sortie above the runway. Numerous dives, loops and barrel rolls followed with a low pass and a wing waggle to finish for the club members watching below.
Norman is strapped into the rear seat of the Yak-52 ready for take-off

Norman thanks the Yak-52 pilot, Valeri Tamarovski, for the experience.

We returned to that lovely, flat, stable, concrete runway and on climbing out of the aircraft I was then informed by my highly experienced pilot that we had pulled around 6 Gs (the meter in my rear cockpit seat had actually registered 7 G) in the turns….by comparison a high speed roller coaster reaches about 3 G…another smoked sausage anyone?  The hospitality carried on into the evening and after I had presented a talk on the GGG circumnavigation, I was hosted by the Chief of the Air Club for a fine supper. However this time I lost count after about 10 Cognac toasts, but thankfully the drive back into town afterwards didn't involve any impromptu aerobatic manoeuvres …
Norman with members of the Primorsky Flying Club.

Norman receives a complimentary Primorsky FC cap from the 'Chief of the Air Club'... Aleksander Urbanovich 

A further delightful bonus of the trip was to make contact with a local Language school in the town of Artem (close by the international airport), where I was staying in a local hotel. I was asked to give my GGG talk to a number of the English speaking classes. To have a native English speaker was seen as quite a rare event in this outlying town and so, yet again, I was royally treated. 
Norman's talk about the flight is greatly appreciated by the staff and pupils of  the Artem language school.

A local tradition on the arrival of any traveller is to be presented with some heavy black bread and salt. The bread is broken and then dipped into the salt and eaten. We enacted this tradition in the first classroom which was very interesting for me, but I then had to try to start my talk with a mouth full of very hard to swallow bread much to the amusement of the students!
(Read more about Norman's visit to the language school via their website - Click Here)  
Norman is presented with the traditional Black Bread and Salt by local children.

Maybe not the best starter to have before trying to give a talk.

A further unexpected bonus came later in the trip when the Air Club Chief offered to take me for a 45 minute local flight around the Artem and Vladivostok area. It was a bitterly cold day with a fierce wind chill standing on the concrete runway, but the compensation was that the visibility aloft was excellent and we had a great view around Vladivostok’s famous Golden Horn Bay. 
Norman prepares for his flight around the Vladivostok area on a bitterly cold day with suitably attired Flying club members

Norman returns to the ground after the flight in the Tecnam P2002JF, piloted by Aleksander Urbanovich  

Another anomaly, best appreciated perhaps from the air, is the fact that a very impressive, newly built, dual carriageway road goes all the way out from the City Centre, over the 2 new bridges to the APEC summit campus buildings, then carries on past the campus entrance and on over and around the next few hills until it was well out of the sight of any of the delegates, then, in the middle of the island, it simply and abruptly stops…. quite literally, a road to nowhere!   
Good to see that there are other rotor-craft in this part of Russia. Norman gives the thumbs up to the Kamov  KA-27 with its contra-rotating rotors!
I am very pleased to report that the trip was able to produce some very positive results for the continuation of the circumnavigation (which due to the onset of the long winter season in the Bering Sea will now be in the late spring of 2013). It is perhaps best to wait for a little while longer to firm up these plans before we present the full details to the GGG blog, but we are confident moving forward, that we have now found a good way to break through the bureaucratic logjam that has kept us grounded in Japan for all this time.
I would also like to thank personally our main contact in Vladivostok, Dmitri Igrushin, who looked after me extremely well during my stay there. 
Best Regards
Just time, before heading back to Japan, for Norman to join in the Halloween fun with local children, who gave this years party an aviation theme in honour of Norman. 
As Norman says, we are finally feeling confident that 2013 will see the completion of this flight, which will still be a world record breaking achievement as Norman will still be the first to fly an autogyro around the world.
Since writing the article for us, Norman returned to Japan where he was able to secure ‘Roxy’ for the long winter hibernation and has since returned to Northern Ireland for a long awaited reunion with his family.
We all wish Norman and his family a well earned rest and a joyful reunion and hope that all Norman’s followers will be back in 2013 to witness the climax of this marathon adventure.

The Gyrox Team


Friday, July 6, 2012

Norman Gets a New Crew Member!

As the preparations continue apace for the hoped for resumption of the circumnavigation, including a possible re-routing of the flight, Norman has been joined at Shonai Airport by his new travelling buddy, Dougie!

But don't worry, this will still be a solo circumnavigation as Dougie is a Stomawise puppet who will be accompanying Norman for the rest of the flight to promote the Stomawise Cancer Charity which Norman is now involved with. For a fuller explanation it is best if we share with you the official press release to explain what it is all about.
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UK Health Support Website Gets Boost From Worldwide Aviation Adventurer

Stomawise which supports people who have undergone abdominal surgery has got a boost from a worldwide aviation adventurer. Norman Surplus who is attempting to be the first person to fly an autogyro around the world is taking a Stomawise ‘passenger’ as part of his work to raise awareness of bowel cancer and ostomy surgery on his travels.

Dougie, the Stomawise 'traveller' arrives in Japan and is briefed on all things aviation.
Stomawise is an internet based non-profit support network which now gets tens of thousands of visitors a week to its information based website from the UK and beyond. Currently in Japan after flying solo half way round the world, Norman greeted Stomawise puppet ‘Dougie’ also known as a Gastronaut. Surplus gave him a guided tour of the open cockpit aircraft that has already seen quite a few adventures in the 13,000 miles (21,000km) of travel across Europe, the Middle East, the Indian Sub-continent and SE Asia.

Norman shows his new companion around Roxy's cockpit and rear seat.

On meeting Dougie for the first time Norman said “I underwent surgery and Chemo treatment for advanced stage Bowel Cancer back in 2003. Although my treatment didn't require me to be fitted with a stoma, it still made me much more aware of the types of practical difficulties faced by others in very similar situations. For young children it must be a particularly challenging time as they come to terms with and perhaps have to even relearn the practicalities of everyday life…. Dougie and his Gastronaut colleagues have a very important role to play in helping with that learning process in a fun and creative way. I am very happy that Dougie has been chosen as the flying Gastronaut and I am sure we are going to have some great adventures together!”
Dougie feels at home in the 2nd seat behind Norman

Gastronauts are supplied mainly to children who have had to undergo surgery that results in them using a stoma bag to collect bodily waste. Norman, from Larne, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is awaiting flight permission for the next leg of his journey into Russian airspace where authorities have delayed his journey by 10 months. If the Russian Civil Aviation Authorities do not give the green light soon Norman’s chance of crossing the Bering Sea to reach Alaska, the next stage after Russia, will be lost due to the short Arctic summer.
Norman, Roxy and new friend Dougie are raring to set off again.

The charity is currently raising funds to purchase several static caravans across the UK to help post surgical ostomates in their recovery. The objective of the project is to assist people re-build their confidence and self esteem after abdominal surgery and the formation of a stoma. This is achieved by offering them a break from the day-to-day pressures of home where they can focus on their own needs. Norman who is currently located at Shonai Airport, Yamagata, Japan is a survivor of advanced stage bowel cancer. This life changing experience is one of the reasons for the world record flight and for his work in promoting awareness of this type of cancer.
Norman and Dougie, both in their own flying gear.
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We hope the arrival of Dougie to the team will inspire people to check out the Stomawise website and also to visit the GyroxGoesGlobal sites for more updates and photos of what should be an interesting new episode in the story of the first circumnavigation of the globe by autogyro.
We wish them the best of luck for a speedy return to flying.

The Gyrox Team

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

10 month Russian hold up puts pioneering UK world flight in doubt!

We at the Gyrox Team are really saddened that once again we are having to call out to Norman's dedicated followers to come to our aid in a last ditch attempt to keep the flight on track.
The reasons for this are best described by publishing here the press release Norman has sent out to the world's media. The plea for your help is at the bottom of the release.

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“In this UK Olympic year, Russia seems to have forgotten the fair play spirit of the games!“
A UK pilot’s world record gyrocopter flight is in serious doubt as Russian authorities have delayed permission to enter their airspace for 10 months. Cancer survivor and green entrepreneur Norman Surplus has already traversed 18 countries and achieved numerous new FAI World Records in his bid to be the first to circumnavigate the globe in a gyrocopter. If the Russian Civil Aviation Authorities do not give the green light soon Norman’s chance of crossing the Bering Sea to reach Alaska, the next stage after Russia, will be lost due to the short Arctic summer.
The 49-year-old adventurer from Larne, Northern Ireland has already flown his tiny, five metre long craft half way around the world crossing some of the world’s most hostile environments. He has been forced to wait, very patiently, in Japan since late July last year for the Russian Civil Aviation Authority who have been “processing” his onward flight permission - an administration task that is normally supposed to take only 14 days. He needs to make a transit through the Far Eastern Region of Russia from Vladivostok to reach the Bering Sea and fly onwards into North America.

Norman has reported from his current location, Tsuruoka City in NW Japan:  “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. I have flown half way around the world through 18 countries to reach this point but Russia now appears to be very disinterested in assisting in any way to help me continue on this international World Record setting flight. None of the other countries, whilst presenting many varied challenges of their own along the way, have been so seemingly belligerent and stubborn. It’s as if they are simply not bothered to give any assistance at all. It’s not like we are asking to land a Space Shuttle in Siberia, we are just asking that they help, like so many of the more obliging countries already passed, to send a small pioneering aircraft on its way, unhindered, around the globe”.
He continues “Our flight, named GYROX GOES GLOBAL is not a large commercially sponsored expedition with endless resources of personnel and equipment to draw on, nor is it run as some huge military sponsored expeditionary exercise. It is a relatively low budget, privately funded charity flight, attempting to raise funds along the way for Bowel Cancer UK and other cancer awareness charities. Sitting here, constantly waiting for news from Russia, it is very easy to form the impression that the Bureaucrats are thinking that by simply ignoring us, for long enough, we will be forced to give up, pack up and go home and stop bothering them. It is a very frustrating situation”.
Time is now the biggest factor as the Bering Sea acts as a climatic gateway, it can only be crossed in this small type of open cockpit aircraft in the few brief Arctic summer months and we are already into June…The Russian permission needs to come through realistically in the next few weeks so that the flight can have enough time to cross North America and the North Atlantic before the end of the summer.

And in one further bureaucratic twist to this saga, the Japanese will require 3 weeks to process their exit permission to allow Norman to fly out of Japan. This extra 3 weeks will have to be added on top of the Russian delay. There is not a moment to lose if we would like to see Norman complete his epic World Record setting journey especially in this special Jubilee and Olympic summer of 2012.
The humble gyrocopter, which predates by some decades its more glamorous rotary cousin the Helicopter, is the last remaining type of aircraft that has yet to fly around the world. This, is despite the fact, that the first gyrocopter actually flew way back in 1923 - 89 years ago….a very long time to wait for this highly capable little aircraft to enjoy the recognition it rightly deserves , hopefully the Russians can now act positively, quickly and decisively to help bring all this long waiting process to an end. 
We are effectively still stuck in Japan at the moment and urgently in need of a big groundswell of popular support from our many supporters and online followers around the UK and the World to help convince our various local politicians to lobby the UK Foreign Office in London to, in turn and on our behalf, urge the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow our “Gyrox Goes Global” flight permission application to be quickly acted on and approved.
Basic World Geography dictates, that this northern routing across the Bering Sea to Alaska is the only possible way that any light aircraft (from any country) can hope to cross the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and as such, the Russians along with the Americans in Alaska, should feel a sense of moral duty and obligation to the World to act as a responsible gatekeeper, extending free access and unhindered passage to all such flights wanting to cross this region, providing that they are flying on an internationally recognised, Official FAI World Record Circumnavigation attempt.
This is an urgent action for, as everyone that has been following our ongoing journey over the past three(!) summers knows, the weather windows for crossing both the near Arctic conditions of the Bering Sea and the North Atlantic are very short. Realistically we need to have the permission decision from Russia in the next couple of weeks, if I stand any chance of completing the whole circumnavigation before the end of this summer.
If anyone is able to offer any assistance (political or otherwise) in persuading the Russians to “Play Fair” in this, our special Olympic Year of 2012, then I would be most grateful for their support.
Many Thanks,
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So how can you help?
Please share this blog post wherever you can...Facebook, Twitter, news pages or anywhere that you think it will get a reaction.
Check for this press release appearing in local and international newspapers and their websites and if it is possible reply to the article giving your support for Norman.
Forward this blog post, with your own message of support, to any governmental department you think might take an interest in supporting Norman.
Be vocal on Russian sites about their lack of support for Norman which is against the worldwide support the flight carries.
If you have any 'concrete' suggestions for Norman please use the comment box here or send a message via the Facebook pages. We will pass your ideas on to Norman straight away.
We sincerely hope that the next blog post will have good news and in advance, we thank all the supporters for their continued belief in Norman's venture.
The Gyrox Team
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