Saturday, August 28, 2010

Norman Experiences Storms and Triffids

Norman has sent an update about his day to day activities during his stay at Woodland Air Park near Angeles City on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. He has talked about the never-ending writing of emails and endless phone calls to the different agencies coordinating with him in his efforts to get the paperwork sorted out to enable the continuance of his journey, and of course the infinite waiting around for replies.

Norman’s stay at Woodland’s was exasperated by a massive electrical storm a few days ago that knocked out all the power to the region, leaving him without internet access and more importantly…air conditioning! A sticky situation only alleviated by having regular cold showers through the oppressive heat of the night.

This stormy scenario may have been on Norman’s mind as he flew towards Woodland Air Park last week after leaving Laoag, as can be seen from this photo of the gathering storm systems taken by Norman en-route.

(Time to be on the ground)
Norman did have a break from the frustrations of bureaucracy and managed to visit the nearby Clark Air Base. A major US base from 1903 until the USAF departed in 1991. It played a pivotal part in World War 2 and was a major base for operations during the Viet Nam conflict.

Below is a photo of Family housing for US military personnel at Clark AB during the 70’s and is included as a comparison to the photo taken by Norman on his visit.
(Family Housing 1970's Style)
Norman now tells us in his own words about his visit to Clark.

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Day of the (different) Triffids

I recently went for a 10 km walk with fellow pilot Jay Cooke (from the Angeles Flying Club) around the far flung corners of the old Clark US air force base situated nearby. After Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 the base was wound down and much of the base housing (away from the main bustling central area around the runways) fell into an advanced state of disrepair.... this, despite the Base becoming a Freeport with minimal taxation in recent years. Much evidence of half renovated schemes that had apparently run out of money in recent years was plain to see as we progressed around. It was interesting all the same to imagine how this base housing must have appeared back in its heyday, a leafy suburban idyll no doubt, cocooned and protected in its own Little America.
Now, even newly constructed walls only a few years old are being smothered and re-consumed by sprawling, pervasive and encroaching “Triffid” like jungle flora. This all dominating, force of nature, taking command once again of its natural habitat without fuss, as it would have done after countless ground smothering and clearing volcanic eruptions in the past millennia, way before Military Aeroplanes and their sprawling, pervasive and encroaching Triffid like support mechanisms were ever invented....

I have added a photo of “officers housing” - a “leafy suburban dream home” it once undoubtedly was for someone....The new residents are definitely more leafy and less suburban....
(Triffids Reclaim the Kitchen)
Cheers Norman.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Norman to be Honoured at the Burning Man Festival.

During his stay at Woodland Air Park whilst waiting to start the next leg of the journey, Norman was delighted hear that his name is to be added to the ‘Flammable Stanley Cup for Cancer Survivors’.

This is a project to create a replica of the famous Ice Hockey Trophy called the Stanley Cup on which names of cancer survivors will be engraved. Its main aim is to celebrate the lives of cancer survivors and give hope to those who are dealing with it now.

The cup will be made of flammable materials so that it can burnt at the World famous ‘Burning Man Festival’. The project creator, Marissa Krupa, has asked that if anyone who knows of other survivors that would like their name added to the cup to please contact her via the link below.

Along with others, Marissa is hoping that Norman’s fight against cancer followed by his incredible adventure will inspire others in their own battles with the disease.

A worthy cause that has acknowledged Norman’s achievements and which Norman is pleased to be part of. The photo below shows the 'Stanley Cup' being constructed.

(Coutesy of Marissa Krupa)

If you want to know more check out the following links.

Check out The Flammable Stanley Cup Web Page
Check out the Burning Man Festival Website

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Norman Returns To Woodland Air Park.

As many will have seen, via the Spot Tracker, Norman departed Laoag Airport this morning and flew south, covering the 200 miles (321 Km) back to Woodland Air Park, near Angeles City in the centre of Luzon Island.

You may remember that Norman stayed here for a couple of days as the guest of the Angeles City Flying Club and was able to perform G-YROX’s 25 hour maintenance checks with the help of locally based engineers whilst he was there.

So following an open invitation to return to the flying club at anytime and also because of the continuing delay in receiving permissions to fly on to the next country in his schedule, Norman will be spending some time at Woodland’s with friends he made when there earlier this month.

Hopefully permissions will be forthcoming soon and then Norman can get under way again but in the meantime a new set of photos have arrived showing Norman arriving at Laoag International Airport.

Photo one shows Norman and G-YROX on approach to the airport.

(Photo Coutesy of Rey Anthony C. Villanueva)

Photo two shows Norman and G-YROX taxiing to the apron.

(Photo Coutesy of Rey Anthony C. Villanueva)

Photo three shows Norman and G-YROX coming to a halt in front of a marshaller who is signaling Norman to cut engines!

(Photo Coutesy of Rey Anthony C. Villanueva)

Photo four shows Norman and G-YROX safely on the apron with a beautiful Philippine skyline as a backdrop.

(Photo Coutesy of Rey Anthony C. Villanueva)

Photo five shows Norman repositioning G-YROX in the way only he knows best.

(Photo Coutesy of Rey Anthony C. Villanueva)

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Norman Pays Tribute to the Battle of Britain Autogyro

As the people of Britain start a month of airshows and remembrance services commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Norman would like to highlight the little known part played by Autogyro’s during this period.

In 1934 the RAF received its first Avro Rota Mk 1, a licenced built Cierva C30A (Designed by Juan De La Cierva, the inventor of the autogyro). By 1940,1448 Flight at Duxford were equipped with Avro Rota Mk 1 Autogyro’s and No.529 RAF Squadron at RAF Halton were also equipped Avro Rota Mk1’s to be used 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 fighter approaching the South Coast of England during the Battle of Britain. Some Autogiros were in civil ownership and at the beginning of the war they were impressed into military service.

It is obvious that because of the special maneuvering characteristics of the autogyro the research into Radar may not have reached the sophistication that was needed to turn the tide of the air war during those dark days in the summer of 1940.

A true unsung hero from the Battle of Britain, the spirit of the Autogyro continues today as can be seen by Norman’s adventure. But back in March, before Norman set off on his quest, he went to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford in Cambridgeshire for the official media announcement for his planned circumnavigation and whilst there he paid his own respects to one of the few remaining Rota Mk1’s left in the world, which is on display in the museum. (See photo below)

Norman with the Avro Rota Mk1 at Duxford
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A Letter from Laoag

Facebook friends may have seen the reply Norman himself gave to James Martin after James’ translation of the Der Spiegel article but because there are also many followers of the Blog and/or Twitter who don’t have access to the Facebook page Norman has requested that his message to James be repeated here for the benefit of everyone.

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I am indebted to you and your father in law! I spent about 1hr 30m on the phone in a Laoag coffee shop - (you know, as you do - free WiFi - nice Cappuccino...etc. felt just like home really!) doing the interview for this piece so it's nice to see it is being well received and now translated for a wider readership - many thanks indeed.

I often think, especially on those big sea transits, about the generosity you and others have extended to me en route, simply, no fuss, done in the spirit of adventure that we must all surely recognise in ourselves and in others. I helped a couple who were kayaking around Ireland many years ago - they just happened to land on the beach near our house - we took them in, fed them, they showered and we organised local transport for them and their equipment to the friends they were due to meet later in the day. It was fascinating to hear of some of their adventures along the way and I suppose I am now on the receiving end of that connection, that meeting of minds.

It seems a long time since I was in Abu Dhabi, but here we are today carrying on the conversations we had back then - it is a small world. The transponder trouble and solution we had back then (you might remember, I was generously lent a replacement) was a further proof of this kindred spirit, this passion to help someone achieve a difficult goal - I am only too sad that the replacement Garmin didn't survive, like a lot of the electronics, its first (and last) swimming lesson in the Nong Prue Lake....a matter I will have to put right at the end of the trip...

We have to hope now that the same spirit of adventure is alive and well in the Japanese aviation authorities’ minds as they continue to deliberate my next section of the route.... Best regards Jim and I hope to catch up with you again on my second lap!! (This may be done a bit faster and by slightly more conventional means...!)



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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Norman Arrives Back at Laoag

Norman has arrived back at Laoag following his 2 day sojourn in the Philippine capital of Manila. This followed yet another 10 hour overnight bus journey to the northern end of Luzon Island.

Norman described the trip as...
“Not too bad, I was able to curl up on a double seat and get some shuteye, but there were no facilities on the bus and when it did stop to pick up more passengers you had very little time to use the rest stop facilities before the driver was sounding his horn, which meant you had one minute to get back on the bus before he drove off, no questions asked!”

Norman is now waiting for final clearances to fly on and is hoping this will be very soon.

In the meantime he has been able to send some photos for inclusion here of his arrival at Laoag and subsequent storage of G-YROX in the airport fire station!

Photo one shows the typical greeting he has when arriving in far flung airports. People appear from nowhere and although complete strangers, take Norman and his ‘funny little aeroplane’ to heart. In fact it is hard to see G-YROX with all the well-wishers surrounding Norman.

Norman with Well-Wishers

Photo two shows G-YROX being positioned in the Airport Fire Station with two firemen happy to have a new resident. One even dressed in matching uniform to G-YROX’s paint scheme!

G-YROX Fits in nicely in her temporary new home

The third photo shows Norman with two of the firemen who are obviously ready for anything. Norman looks quite under-dressed for the occasion.
Norman looks quite under-dressed for the occasion.

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A New Video Showing Norman's Departure From Nongprue.

After a three month forced stay at the small airfield of Nongprue in Thailand, Norman finally departs to head south on his circumnavigation of the globe. It was an emotional departure due to having to say goodbye to all the many friendships he had made there and no doubt a few tears were shed by the flight club members who waved him off.

Many thanks to Bee Hallin from the Nongprue Flying Club for sharing this with us.
Watch the video here
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Der Spiegel article Translated.

Thanks to Mr James Martin and his father in law, the article posted yesterday from the German Magazine 'Der Spiegel' has now been translated into English.
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43.500 kilometers in an open cockpit

Norman Surplus, from Northern Ireland, intends to be the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a tiny gyrocopter. In his attempt to set up a world record, he will have to fight against bureaucracy and adverse weather conditions. Twice already he had to make an emergency landing.

The news spread swiftly on this muggy day in a very small village near Calcutta. People were talking about a bright yellow object of the size of an ox floating down from the skies and landing in the middle of their fields. They also saw it in the neighbouring village.

On this afternoon in April, some two hundred people gathered within five minutes around this mysterious flying apparatus. A man in a bright red suit alights from this machine. Gesticulating, the man moves to the rear seat, fumbles around for a while. Then he gets back in again, waves briefly and takes off again.

This is what Norman Surplus, the man in the red suit, tells us. That yellow thing is his gyrocopter. The 47 year old Norman is attempting to be the first person to circumnavigate the world in his autogyro. He set off on 22nd March from his home town Larne in Northern Ireland and hopes to land there again at the beginning of October. By then he will have covered 43,500 kilometers and visited 24 countries; a flight over deserts, mountain ranges and three oceans.

The fuselage of the gyrocopter is not much larger than a two-man bob. Three small wheels are fixed to this fuselage, whilst the rudder is attached by a thin aluminium rod. The rotor operates by the airstream. The engine, which drives only the propeller at the rear, is unprotected. The cockpit is open. No wonder the people of the Indian village were amazed at the pilot. On that afternoon in April, Surplus had to make an emergency landing in order to top up the fuel by hand because an air bubble had clogged up the fuel hose. “I think the people there are still talking about it”, Surplus said with a smile.

The unusual aircraft has a magnetic effect on people everywhere. Wherever Surplus touches down, people come in droves to have a look. Most people have never seen such a machine. “I often take myself back to the twenties when the sight of an aeroplane caused similar reaction”, Surplus added with a smile.

At the moment, he and his yellow gyrocopter are in the Philippines. He left behind him the
beaches of France, Italy and Greece, the pyramids of Giza, the Saudi Arabian desert, the sheikhdoms of Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, the Indian subcontinent, as well as Myanmar/Burma, Thailand and Malaysia. In the next days and weeks he wants to fly on to Taiwan, Japan, via Russia to the Bering Straits to Alaska, Canada and the United States, and from there via Greenland, Island and the Faeroe Islands via the Atlantic back to Northern Ireland.

In his 160 kilometers per hour “convertible”, Surplus covers some 700 kilometers per day on average. His aircraft comes from a German firm. “They have the best build quality,” says the pilot, who owns a wind power plant business in Larne. The gyrocopter gives the impression of a toy. When he is sitting in it, it reminds him of the sandman, who, it seems, always looked a little bit too big in comparison to this flying machine. The circumnavigation of the world in a flying nutshell, a thought which might cause others to break out in a cold sweat, holds a great attraction for him. “You feel the airstream, and the view is marvelous,” he comments. As a matter of fact, he regards flying his machine as the simplest part of the project. “Most difficulties are caused by bureaucracy,” says Surplus.

Landing permission, overfly rights, flight altitudes – everything has to be sorted out before and complied with. For instance, the Egyptians insisted upon keeping to an altitude of 2,500 metres. “Pretty cold at that height,” said Surplus with a smile. His normal height is about 1,000 metres. “Even my survival suit wasn’t much help at that height.” This suit was specially made for him in Finland and was a mixture of nylon, Teflon and polyurethane to keep him warm and dry and to protect him from the sun in the tropics. In addition, it also has a red emergency button. If pressed, it sends a signal to a rescue centre in England and gives his present position.

It was not possible to get overfly rights for China. Surplus had to plan a route around the country. In retrospect, it was a good thing. “By planning my route in this way, I met many interesting people and cultures which I would have missed otherwise,” he said. Russia, too, will present a bureaucratic challenge. The authorities there insist on carrying a Russian in the rear seat to accompany me. The problem is that the rear seat already accommodates my entire luggage and on top of it two additional fuel tanks which increase the range of the gyrocopter from the normal 480 to nearly 1,300 kilometers.

Red tape is even more unpredictable than the weather. There is no autopilot in the gyrocopter. So in bad weather conditions it cannot fly. On several occasions, Surplus had to stop flying temporarily. One such unusual occurrence sticks in mind when, in Saudi Arabia, on the route from Riyadh to Doha, there was a sudden desert storm. He was unable to return as the next storm was already brewing behind him. So, without further ado, he touched down next to a filling station on a road in the middle of the desert. At first, the Saudis looked a bit confused but then offered him sweet chai tee and a place to sleep. Next morning, Surplus pushed his flying machine, which weighs only 500 kilos, to the petrol pump – it uses just ordinary petrol.

When on the ground, Surplus, with his unusual aircraft, quickly becomes friends with people. And even up in the air he never feels lonely. Anybody can find his current position on their own computers by what is called a Spot Tracker. “This is psychologically important for me,” says Surplus. “It gives me the feeling as if a thousand people are with me during the flight in the rear seat looking over my shoulder.”

The round-the-world trip of Surplus is a great personal triumph. Only seven years ago, when he was 40, it didn’t look as if he would still be alive in 2010 as he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. In hospital, it was mainly television that took his mind off things. Once when he was zapping through the channels during the morning programme, he saw scenes of an old autogyro being restored. Up to now, such machines were only known to him through James Bond films. He was impressed by their lightness and agility and vowed to learn to fly such a machine as soon as he would leave the hospital. Contrary to all prognoses, he battled successfully through the chemotherapy. Soon after he was discharged from hospital, he carried out his promise and he began his flying training on the gyrocopter.

With his circumnavigation of the earth Surplus intends also to raise money for cancer research which has also benefited him. And he wants to set an example. ”The flight around the world will show what you can achieve with a positive attitude and will encourage people who think that they are in the same hopeless situation that I was in at the time,” Surplus said.

He is not the first person who has tried such a circumnavigation of the world. In 2004 Barry Jones, of Great Britain, failed because of the Indian monsoon rain which flooded his gyrocopter. And Surplus, too, once thought that he had reached the premature end of his project when, on 1st May, he had to make a forced landing on a lake in Thailand. Thanks to the shallow water, it was possible to save his aircraft and his luggage.

He refused to give up after this incident, but for some time it was rather doubtful whether he would be able to continue. It took three months until his gyrocopter was airworthy again. He is still facing one of the biggest challenges: crossing the Atlantic with its unpredictable weather. Surplus is looking forward to it. “At least the temperatures will be like at home. 47 degrees, like in India, were simply just too much.”
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Here is the link again to the original Der Spiegel article which has photos of the adventure. Thanks go again to James Martin for the translation.

The Der Spiegel Article

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Norman's Slowest Journey Yet?

Norman has just undertaken a journey of around 280 miles (450 Km) and it took him 10 hours! But don’t worry, G-YROX didn’t hit a really strong headwind, this is how long it took for the bus to travel from Laoag to the Philippine capital city, Manila. Norman is spending a couple of days there giving interviews to local and international media representatives. Hopefully, there will be a pod cast soon from one of the interviews.

Meanwhile, permission to fly on is getting closer and hopefully there should be news about the resumption to the flight soon.

Norman has been able to pass on his delight with the response to an article in the German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’. The interest in Germany spurred on by this article has added many new friends to Norman’s Facebook page, many new followers on the Blog and a massive increase in people following Norman on Twitter.

Here is the link to the article, which does convey the spirit of Norman and his adventure.
The Article in Der Spiegel

Tomorrow's Blog will include photos from Laoag.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Would You Care for Some More Typhoon Tea, Vicar?

Whilst Norman has been waiting at Laoag in the Philippines for permissions to continue his journey he has been able to write some words for the Blog about the ‘moderate chance’ of a Typhoon passing through the area next week. He has included a weather chart that he hopes will get some interesting feedback from weather/aviation aficionados.

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From the Pilot, Norman Surplus

I have always been fascinated by extreme weather, many a time growing up (and still even now!) back home my Brother, David and I would be excitedly following the weather forecast for days as a big, deep, low pressure system would roll in across the North Atlantic towards our home. Picking the best moment of converging high winds and “storm surge” high tides we would don our foul weather gear and go out to do battle with the elements along the shore line. It’s only by physically standing out there, almost being literally blown off your feet, that you can really appreciate the awesome power of nature.

At times like these you are getting close to the edge of man's (self assumed) dominance over his built environment and the fabric of our cosy existence starts to slightly rip and tear at the seams. We then have a child like fascination to be out there whooping and hollering at the madness of it all, getting soaked and blown about until it’s time to return home for a nice warming cup of “Typhoon Tea”.... It is as well that these severe episodes are very short lived, lasting a few hours or days, before the “big clean up” can put things back into some sort of normality again. This is “extreme” weather in the UK and although we like to think of it as extreme, by comparison to the rest of the world it is quiet tame really.

Real Typhoons (and Hurricanes) are very different. These can be very destructive and very dangerous and would have no problem at all blowing you off your feet. The life fabric really gets torn, shredded beyond recognition in some instances and it takes much longer than a few days for the big clean up, sometimes years or even sometimes never... Nature really does win in these battles and all we can do is monitor, be aware and hopefully be out of harm’s way as and when the next one is being fought.

I have often thought that if you wanted to go outside and experience these sorts of conditions as we do in Larne, my brother and I would have to forego the foul weather gear and hire ourselves a Tank from the Army (coincidently, we actually have a friend in Larne who has a whole collection of vintage tanks and landing craft he uses for film work so perhaps we could borrow one for the occasion - but I digress...) Safely inside the Tank we could then trundle about the deserted streets at the height of the storm, once more whooping and hollering at the madness of it all, bits of flying debris, building masonry, roof tiles, uprooted trees could all fall on the tank like so much confetti at a wedding and we would trundle on unhindered...stopping only to enjoy the flask of hot typhoon tea that we would now, of course, be able to bring with us!

Weather Chart for The South East Asia Region

All the best from the Fabulous Philippines


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Norman also sends his thanks to The Popular Rotorcraft Association (PRA) who have been of great assistance to Norman during his flight. He sends these words that also have a thank you to all who follow him on his various sites.

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I just wanted to thank everyone in the PRA for the tremendous support I am receiving now that the restart of the circumnavigation is well under way (albeit I am stalled a while at the moment awaiting permission to enter Japan) It has given me time to catch up on emails and read up on the various website reports on the expedition. It really gives me a psychological boost to know I am not alone up there!


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The photo shows Norman proudly displaying the PRA logo that is now firmly attached to G-YROX in pride of place.

Norman next to G-YROX displaying the PRA Logo
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Norman Prepares For A Typhoon.

As Norman spends another day in Laoag, in the northern tip of Luzon Island, The Philippines, waiting for permission to fly into Taiwan, he has received reports of an approaching typhoon, due to hit the area next week. This will need careful scrutiny over the next few days and may be crucial in deciding departure dates.

As for G-YROX; as was previously reported, she has been sharing space with the Laoag Airport fire engines, safely tucked up under a covered roof where she has her own 24 hour guard! But Norman has decided that with a typhoon on its way G-YROX needs to be in a more secure setting and is hoping tomorrow morning to fly her the short hop from the airport to the secure area of the University Campus where he is staying whilst in Laoag.

This has a secure garage where G-YROX can be safely ensconced, away from the worst of the weather. Maybe, if Spot is switched on, this short flight will be visible on the tracker tomorrow.

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Norman has also been able to forward a few more photos from his time at Woodlands Air Park

Photo one shows Norman preparing to take G-YROX on a test flight following the 25 hour checks which were undertaken with the help of the backseat passenger, Jay Cook, whilst at Woodland’s Air Park.
(Photo courtesy of Tony Willis)

Photo two shows Norman and Jay taxiing out for the test flight under a darkening sky
(Photo Courtesy of Tony Willis)

Photo three shows G-YROX in flight, keeping quite low because of the very low cloud base…
(Photo courtesy of Tony Willis)

Photo four shows Norman and G-YROX outside the Woodland terminal in a group shot with some of the local engineers who helped Norman with his checks.
(Photo coutesy of Tony Willis)

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Red Tape Delays Entry Into Taiwan....

It is now possible that Norman will not be able to enter Taiwan until next Tuesday (17th August). This is due to the complicated entry permissions for an aircraft of G-YROX’s specification. So once again, it’s not the weather or technical problems holding Norman up but red-tape. He is being accommodated and looked after at Laoag by one of the ground-handlers from the airport and will be catching up on paperwork and route planning whilst on the ground.

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The General Manager from Angeles Flying Club, Tony Willis, at Woodland Air Park where Norman spent two days has been able to send us some photographs of Norman and G-YROX during their stay.

The first one shows Norman and G-YROX parked on the immaculate lawn outside the airfield’s terminal.

(Photo by T. Willis)

The second photograph shows Norman and G-YROX outside the hangars at Woodlands with Mr. Jay Cook in the rear seat. Mr Cook was the chap who helped Norman with the 25 hour maintenance checks and was also Norman’s host during his stay at Woodlands.
(Photo by T. Willis)

The third photo shows Norman and G-YROX departing Woodland Air Park. This air to air shot was taken by Tony Willis as he and Jay Cook flew in formation with Norman as an escort out of Woodland’s air space.
(Photo by T. Willis)

Norman is trying to find a way around the red-tape and if there is any progress the news will be posted here.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Norman Arrives at Laoag and Recalls The South China Sea.

Norman safely arrived at Laoag International Airport (RPLI) in the north of Luzon Island in the Philippines at about 13.00 local time. This followed a flight from Woodland Air Park of about 200 mile (321 Km). He was met by people from local media and local contacts who are looking after him whilst he is there. He has sent an update to his flight with a description of crossing the South China Sea which is related below...

From Norman

I am in Laoag ok. Pleasant flight up here with an increasing tailwind all the way - my top recorded speed over the ground (3 days ago) was 137 miles an hour over the ground for a given airspeed of about 98 miles an hour! My fastest speed ever...Some tailwind that was...

Flying has been technically challenging over the past few days with many cloud formations and heavy rainfall to negotiate around. This task is greatly helped by the excellent manoeuvrability of the Gyro in flight. It is easy for example to stop mid air, vertically descend say 500 feet to duck under a small “growler” cloud (with apology to icebergs, from which this terminology is borrowed...) climbing back up again afterwards to go over the next one or jink left or right through the towering gaps in the fluffy columns that occupied a layer around 3-4,000 feet. I found myself dodging around in these constantly moving cliff faces for sport, whilst crossing the South China Sea several days ago. It was like a snow white playground in the sky about 150 miles out above the ocean. Very reminiscent of the floating mountains that feature in the recent movie AVATAR.
Mid-air photo taken from G-YROX of weather system

The formations lasted for about 40 miles so I had half an hour of weaving through them maintaining an approximate heading of where I needed to go. Once they finally petered out to reveal the next 50 miles as clear skies, it was time to break out the chocolate and have a an aerial picnic reflecting on how bizarre it was to be having this much fun, so remote from anyone else. Occasionally, much later in the flight huge walls of solid rain would flank my path (see photo) - these had to be monitored closely to establish they would not converge together before I made it safely through the middle to the brighter skies beyond. Like some challenge to nip into a lift before the doors shut, you had to time your run through the gap just right to avoid the heavy rain closing encroaching in on both sides. Success would see you blasting triumphantly out into the clear skies on the far side with barely a speck of rain on the windshield, while a watery curtain closed across behind you.


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Norman has expressed doubts as to any flying tomorrow as entry permission for Taiwan is still to be finalised.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Norman Prepares to Head North...

After a days rest from flying and a chance to do some important checks on G-YROX, Norman will be departing Woodlands Air Park in the centre of Luzon Island, The Philippines, for a 200 mile (321 Km) flight to Laoag International Airport (RPLI) near the northern tip of Luzon Island and the last port of call in the Philippines before heading to Taiwan.

It is expected that Norman will depart WAP mid-morning tomorrow for a lunchtime arrival at Laoag (all times local) and following the 200 mile flight it is unlikely that he will continue to Taiwan a further 300+ miles (480+ Km) across the Philippine Sea.

As usual, departure and destination are subject to weather and permissions.
There will be further updates after Norman arrives in Laoag.

Follow tomorrow’s progress on the ‘Spot’ tracker at

and a reminder why Norman is attempting this flight

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Norman Describes Yesterday's Flight...

Norman will not be flying today but he has been able to get this message out from Luzon and in his own words describes yesterday’s flight and today’s schedule…

I had an invite to the Woodlands Airpark after I contacted them - Captain Siva (from Kuala Lumpur) had put me on to them initially. I progressed up towards Manila bay under the 1500 feet control Zone. All the mountains were covered in low cloud so the low level approach over the sea was the best by far - some spectacular Islands en route - I am now staying with one of the flyers - Jay - from the airfield and I am going to perform a 25 hour airframe inspection today (as the aircraft was re-built - we have to check all the bolts after 25 hours- this is the best place to do this as the airfield, like Nong Prue has a great club atmosphere and will be relatively inexpensive to stay - the other consideration has been the Typhoon Ester which has tracked north of PHILIPPINES - it’s not in my way now as it is moving off but it has dragged a lot of heavy cloud and rain behind it between me and Taiwan - the extra day will allow this to disperse more.

Going to the airfield now with Jay so will report further soon and send a picture or two of the big rain


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Where Did Norman Land? Mystery Resolved...

Norman departed Puerta Princesa on Palawan Island in the Philippines at around 10.00am local time and headed, as was expected, north across the South China Sea towards the Island of Luzon, The Philippines largest island, and his scheduled refuelling stop at Subic Bay. It was only as he approached Luzon that people who were following his progress on the Spot Flight Tracker noticed that he made a north easterly change of direction that took him into Manila Bay and headed towards a destination that was at that time unknown!

A quick glance ahead suggested that Clark Airforce base may have been his destination but this was not to be. He continued northward and then appeared to have landed in the middle of nowhere!

But soon the mystery was resolved when it was discovered that he had arrived at the Woodland Air Park near Angeles City, an ultralight/microlight airfield, similar to the one at Nongprue and home to the Angeles City Flying Club.

This Flying club certainly has the facilities to make Norman’s stay with them an enjoyable one, which you can check out at the link below.

Some facts about today’s flight…

Depart Puerta Princesa…10.00 local time

Arrive Woodland Air Park…15.00 local time

Distance covered…approx 420 miles (675 Km)

Distance over open water…230 miles (370 Km)

Time in the air…5 hours

Although he was scheduled to fly on from Subic Bay to night stop at Laoag in the north of the island, Norman is now spending the night at the flying club and is expected to head to Laoag in the morning, but because flying a gyrocopter in distance lands is not an exact science this may change at any time.

But these sudden changes in flight plans all add to the drama and suspense of following Norman on the Spot tracker.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Norman is Now in The Philippines!

Norman has arrived in the Philippines, the 16th new country visited by Norman since leaving Larne in March. After a rest day in Kota Kinabalu, during which he managed to get his 3rd haircut of the trip (see photo), he departed early this morning for the 350 mile (560 Km) flight over the Sulu Sea to the Philippine Island of Palawan where he landed at Puerta Princesa International Airport (RPVP) at 13:50 local time.

Norman looks happy after only his 3rd haircut
in nearly 5 months.
Norman followed the northern coast of Borneo before heading north to make the 100+ mile (160 Km) over open water crossing to the Philippines.

There were thunderstorms reported in the area but Norman arrived safely before they could affect his flight. The early arrival means that Normal will have a good rest before tomorrows intended flight to the biggest island in the Philippine archipelago, Luzon. Weather and permissions allowing, he will be landing at Subic Bay, a famous name from the 2nd World War, and after refuelling he will fly on to Laoag near the northern tip of Luzon Island.

This could easily mean a distance of 550 -600 miles (885-965 Km) may be flown tomorrow. Definitely a day to Follow the Spot Tracker.

Norman Has Posted a Link To New Photos

Norman has posted a link to new photos from his first week back in the air. Including departure from Nongprue, Thailand and Malaysia.

Click the photo for more.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Norman Reports On His Departure From Nongprue.

The first flight to Trang was very pleasant - I got a great send off from Nong Prue with virtually the whole crew there for 0700 local except for Ian and Gerry who were away. Everyone lined up and clapped as I started to roll which was very touching - I definitely had a lump in the throat signing off on the radio with Tiger, knowing everyone would be listening in on his hand held radio. Flight over the Gulf of Thailand was very peaceful after hectic last few days - had time to eat my sandwich and look at the many fishing boats below. Loads of little rocky Islands - cliffs on one side little sandy beach on the other complete with the odd solitary Coconut palm tree on the shore - proving the fact that coconuts float to get from island to island.... real Tracy Island thunderbirds stuff..

Near to Trang the rain clouds appeared but these were easy to fly around and made for some spectacular Scenery not unlike rugged Scottish highlands except for temperature.... Trang was very pleasant everyone out to meet me and then a quick trip through the pass on the mountains - hence the dogleg second flight to avoid the higher cloud topped peaks. Hat Yai; interesting to see another part of Thailand and as luck would have it, I spent the evening with Ian who had missed the departure from Nong Prue - he happened to be down here for a motorbike week!
Buddhist Good Luck Ceremony
and Blessing before departure

Looking forward to Malaysia as Celia and I have been before to KL so I’ll seek out a Lassy Namak curry.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

In the Shadow of Mt Kinabalu...

Norman has safely arrived Kota Kinabalu International Airport (WBKK) in the north of the island of Borneo in the Malaysian state of Sabah. This followed a flight from Kuching, where he departed at 10.00am local time for a 330 miles (530 Km) first leg to Miri Airport where he refueled before continuing to Kota Kinabalu, a further 180 miles (290 km) to the North.

Norman made great time on each leg and was helped once again by members of the EAA Malaysian Chapter 1090 (Experimental Aircraft Association) at both stops.
There were doubts about reaching Kota Kinabalu today as a weather front may have caused problems, but Norman managed to arrive at the airport ahead of the rain storms.

The majority of today’s journey was flown overland and included tropical rain forest, Nature Reserves and at one stage he was flying over the Sultanate of Brunei!

But tonight he rests in the city of Kota Kinabalu, a very attractive tourist destination, world famous for its nature reserves and its position at the base of Borneo’s highest peak, Mount Kinabalu. He is being hosted by members of the EAA Malaysian Chapter 1090.

This will be his last night in Malaysia as tomorrow morning, weather permitting, he is scheduled to fly north to Puerto Princesa International Airport on the island of Palawan, his first stop in the 16th new country since leaving Northern Ireland…The Philippines. ETD 09.15am Local time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Norman Arrives in Borneo!

We are happy to announce that after an incredible feat of flying, Norman has arrived safely at Kuching. Today’s epic started late last night as Norman with the help of members of the EAA Malaysia Chapter 1090 (Experimental Aircraft Association) sorted out the aircraft and prepared new flight plans ready for today’s flight. It was 01.00 am (all times local Malaysian time) when Norman finally got to bed and he was up again at 06.00am! This allowed him to depart Kuala Lumpur on time and he was escorted in the air for 50 miles by members of the EAAM before he made a landing at Johor Senai Airport for refueling. This took less than an hour and then he was off again, heading out over the South China Sea with a daunting 400 + mile (640+ Km) flight across open water, before reaching the Indonesian eastern side of the island of Borneo. He then proceeded up a river valley to enter the Malaysian part of Borneo and proceeded to descend into Kuching International Airport (WBGG) where he arrived at approximately 18.15 and was met by more members of the EAAM and local aviation enthusiasts.

We cannot thank enough the members of the MEAA for their assistance whilst Norman was in Kuala Lumpur and special thanks go to…

Captain K Siva Rama, a 747 pilot with Malaysian Airlines and main coordinator of the EMAA

Mrs Rani Siva Raman; Honourable Secretary of the EMAA

Mr Lee Chong Yen,

Mr Shafiq Wilson

Mr Ritzerwan

A truly daunting flight has been accomplished once again in Norman’s resolute and inspirational way. I am sure he is already impressing the folks on the ground with his big smile and affability.

We hope you enjoyed watching his progress on Spot Tracker, it was really entertaining.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Norman Prepares for Major Sea Crossing...

Norman is staying in Kuala Lumpur tonight and is being hosted by members of the EAA Malaysia Chapter 1090,. His arrival was spectacular, with a member of the EAA meeting him mid-air about 30 minutes out from the airport and escorting him to the city where they did a few circuits of the Petronas Towers, which was videoed for future publication.

Because of the extra time spent in the air and activities on the ground, Norman was unable to carry on to his next scheduled destination of Tioman Island. This means that he will depart Kuala Lumpur at 08.30 (local time) tomorrow morning and fly to Johor Senai Airport (WMKJ) where he will refuel before carrying on to Kuching Airport (WBGG) in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. This epic flight will also include a sector of flying over open water for 450 nautical miles (518 miles / 833 Km).

The members of the EAA Malaysia Chapter 1090, will be flying in formation with Norman after he departs Kuala Lumpur and will accompany him until he leaves the city airspace and they will be taking photos during this stage of the flight which we hope to be posting in the near future.

The Gyrox Team.

A Great Arrival In a New Country...

After a day’s delay in Hat Yai, Thailand, Norman has arrived safely at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, the 15th new country he has visited so far on his journey. He was met mid-air by members of the EAA Malaysia Chapter 1090,(Experimental Aircraft Association) in some of their aircraft. They were able to escort him over Kuala Lumpur and in formation, circuit the world famous Petronas Towers which hopefully should have made for a great photo shoot.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Epic Continues...

Following his 8am departure from Nongprue this morning Norman has really given G-YROX a thorough workout. After flying across open sea for over 200 miles (330+km) and crossing jungle and mountains in the central Malay Peninsular, Norman arrived at Trang airport where he had a short break before heading off again for a 70 mile (110km) hop to Hat Yai International Airport, close to the Malaysian Border. Here he will stop overnight before continuing tomorrow to the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Norman arrived at Hat Yai at approx 16.30 local time after a journey lasting approximately 8 and a half hours (including the break at Trang which covered approximately 520 miles (836km). A truly epic first day for our intrepid flyer in his amazing flying machine.

The Adventure Resumes

The news everyone has been waiting for has finally arrived! Norman and G-YROX have departed Nongprue and are well on their way to Trang, which lies 67 miles (110Km) from the southernmost border of Thailand on the Malay Peninsular. The flight is a straight line journey of approximately 380 miles (613km) of which approximately 201miles (324km) will be over open water. Norman will be flying past his original destination of Samui and continuing inland, crossing the Trang Kao Mountains, famous for their rubber plantations before arriving at Trang regional airport (VTST).
It is expected that after a short stopover in Trang Norman will then continue with a short hop of around 66miles (106km) to Hat Yai International Airport (VTSS), close to the Malaysian border, where he will night stop before continuing on his epic voyage tomorrow.