Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why The Weather Had The Final Say.

Since arriving back home to Larne in Northern Ireland, Norman has been kept busy doing the rounds of Newspaper, TV and radio interviews. The mass of support for Norman’s adventure has been wonderful and he has been able to recount his journey so far and answer most questions during these interviews for the public to read or hear. But there is one question that is regularly asked and is apparently easily answered…’Why did you decide to put the journey on hold?’

The easy answer is because of the worsening weather in North East Russia and the Bering Sea.
But obviously this doesn’t really convey how seriously Norman considered this aspect of his flight and why it was paramount in his final decision.

Norman has flown in bad weather already; skirting large storms and dog-legging around the worst of what nature can throw up. But this was a walk in the park compared to what he would have had to face the further North he flew. For most of us who live in temperate climates it’s hard to imagine what extreme weather can be like and a quick glimpse of an atlas will show that North East Russia is quite green with only a small bit of blue water to cross into Alaska. But the reality is quite different.

Therefore, Norman has decided that the best way to show why he decided to not risk continuing into this area until next spring would be to use quotes and links from various sites that are experts on this region.

The Chukotka Region

The Chukotka region is the peninsular in the far north-east of Russia and is the most easterly point of Asia before crossing the Bering Sea to North America. It is renowned for its extreme weather and here are some quotes from the Chukotka website…

‘Climate of Chukotka is very inclement. Local old-timers say that one month in a year they have bad weather, two months – very bad and the rest nice – nasty weather.
In the winter air temperature in western continental parts of Chukotka often goes down as much as 44-60 degrees Celsius below zero. Strong winds blow in the eastern parts and snow storms can sometimes last for many days. Summer is very short, rainy and cold, in certain places the snow stays on the ground unmelted. Permafrost lies in the upper layers of soil and can be found anywhere in the country.’

It can be seen from this that even a summer flight across this region won’t be a joyride.
A valley in North Eastern Chukotka in summertime.
‘Average year air temperature in Chukotka is below zero in all parts of the region: from 4.1 C (Navarin Cape) to -14 C over the East-Siberian Sea Coast (a/k/a Raucha). However, the climate becomes more continental to the West of the most distant Eastern point, the so-called "Chukotka wedge", and although the area of the region is not significant its average temperatures vary greatly: in July from +4 С to +14 С and in January from -18 С to -42 С.’

And from the website ‘Angus Adventures’…

‘Winter in Chukotka is the most extreme in the planet. It is much, much colder than Alaska due to the fact that the prevailing weather comes from the west and chills as it moves across the largest landmass in the world. In central Chukotka temperatures hover around -50 for long periods through the winter.
It is the winds accompanying these extreme temperatures that really make the weather abysmal. The location of Chukotka between the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific creates unique metrological conditions, and frequently winds from 50-100 km/hr blast across the peninsula. Wind chill temperature is often below -100. The lack of vegetation trees and blowing snow means that whiteout conditions are very frequent.’

From this you can see that just the temperatures alone make Norman’s decision to delay the flight the safest decision.

The Bering Sea

From Russia to Alaska, crossing the Bering Strait, is only 85 km. Not that far you may think for Norman and ‘Roxy’ to traverse but as has been the case for most of the journey so far, things are not that easy when flying around the world. The rules say that you must leave Russia from a Departure/entry Airport and arrive at one in Alaska. This makes the crossing nearer to 200km and that is over one of the roughest and most dangerous stretches of water in the world, especially in the winter.

The Bering Sea coastline in Summer
 If you want to find out more about this challenging region and take a longer look at the sea crossing check out the following websites from which the passages posted here are gratefully reproduced.

It is hoped that these articles convey just how dangerous an autumn/winter crossing would have been for Norman and why he made the tough decision to put the flight on hold until the spring…

And Norman’s favourite quote about the region?

‘Snowfall can break out at any time during summer.’

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The Gyrox Team

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Norman Arrives Home

Norman has safely arrived back home to Larne, Northern Ireland and has spent a couple of quiet days at home with his family.

He has sent a message where he recalls the journey back and subsequent return to the ‘Emerald Isle’.

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The 3 flights home were considerably faster and less “busy” for me than the numerous ones I made on the way out to the Philippines! We had a tremendous lightning storm overhead arriving into Hong Kong and this delayed the onward departure by about 2 hours - we made up sometime en route to London and my connection to Belfast was still easily made (though with bleary eyes in the early (UK Time) morning. The flight conditions on the final leg, heading once again back over the Irish Sea, were excellent - very clear visibility and the rolling green patchwork quilt of fields below, that give the “Emerald Isle” its name, were spectacular, as always. Temperatures on arrival home were much more familiar for me (being measured in the low teens rather than in the low 30’s Celsius), though having spent close on the last 6 months in the Tropics, I had to acclimatise back to “normal” very rapidly! The conditions were actually very similar to the day I departed from Larne, way back in March, with a fair North Westerly breeze blowing (nice tailwind I thought for flying off South Eastwards around the world, though not needed today...).

I am now able to sit and look out over the local sports field where the journey commenced half a year ago and reflect on all that has happened in the intervening months. No doubt as the North Atlantic Autumn Gales set in properly over the next few weeks, I will be battening down the hatches against the wind and driving rain rattling the on windows outside, to begin the enjoyable, comfortable, task of reviewing notes and records to script a full account (in much greater detail) of how the first half of this fantastic Global Challenge has really played out...



March 22nd 2010 and Norman prepares to set off from the playing fields in Larne that he mentions in his message.

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For the aviation buffs out there, you may like to know that Norman flew Philippine Airlines from Manila to Hong Kong where he connected to the Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 flight to Heathrow, London, where he then caught an Aer Lingus Airbus A320 that flew him to Belfast International Airport in Northern Ireland. The whole journey time was around 23 hours.

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The Gyrox Team

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Norman and 'Roxy' Perform a Half-Time Show for the Cameras

With part one of ‘The Circumnavigation of the Globe by Autogyro’ now completed and whilst we wait for the imminent news of Norman’s arrival back in Northern Ireland we have been privileged to receive some photographs taken during Norman’s last official day of flying before his return home.

The photographs were taken during the GMA-7 TV shoot (link to the video below) by TV cameraman, Abraham Archangel Aguja Alegre…AKA Bambam. Besides the ground shots and fly-by’s, Bambam went aloft with Norman and was able to take the mid-air videos seen on the TV video.

Thanks go to Bambam for allowing us to use his photos and we have added a link at the bottom of this post to his full album on Facebook that has many more photos from the day’s shoot.

The camera gets close as Norman examines the nosewheel

Norman rolls 'Roxy' out of the hangar at Woodland's.
Pre-flight checks done and Norman is ready for take-off
A perfect shot as Norman flies low for the cameras.
Bambam prepares for his flight and learns how to do the 'Norman Thumbs Up'
The end of a great days filming

Click here to see the full album of photographs taken by Bambam during the TV shoot
Bambam's Photo Album

Click here to see the TV Video
GMA-7 News Video

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The Gyrox Team

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Become a Facebook Friend
For More Information go to the Website
Consider Donating to Norman's Chosen Charity: Bowel Cancer UK
Consider Joining The Authorised Facebook Fan Page

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Norman Becomes a TV Star

There has been a massive show of support for Norman’s decision to put the circumnavigation on hold until the weather breaks in the spring of next year. Most people realizing how hard a decision this was for Norman and how amazing has been the journey so far.

Over the last few days the media has taken Norman and his quest to their hearts and non more so than GMA 7, the Philippine Television station that run a very good video on their news show on Wednesday night, 8th September.

Here is the link to that article and although in Philippino there are some great shots of Norman flying and some great words from Norman and Tony Willis, the manager of the Angeles Flying Club where the interview took place.
Click here to watch the GMA-7 TV broadcast

Norman has become something of a star in the Philippines and following the massive outpouring of love from the general public in the Philippines for this modest adventurer from Larne, he can be sure of a warm welcome back there next May.

Norman gives his trademark 'thumbs up' and brimming smile following the flying shots for the GMA-7 news interview.

For your further reading we have added links below to some of the many News articles about the hiatus in the journey that have appeared in Newspapers and magazines around the world.

BBC News: Northern Ireland
Aero-News Network
UK Wired News
The Northern Ireland Newsletter
Ulster TV - Lifestyle
The Larne Times

And to show how touch and go the decision to delay the flight was, here is a link to press report from the 6th September detailing that the flight may still have gone ahead.
NI Newsletter

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The Gyrox Team

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Become a Facebook Friend
Find More Information on the Website
Consider Donating to Norman's Chosen Charity: Bowel Cancer UK
Consider Joining The Authorised Facebook Fan Page

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Norman Calls Half Time on the Adventure

A few hours ago we received conformation from Norman in the Philippines that the ‘Gyrox Goes Global’ adventure will be taking a winter break.

Norman, in a philosophical yet rational mood, has released a statement about the reasons for this and positively talks about the continuation of the record breaking flight next spring.

Here is the statement in Norman’s own words…

Norman Surplus’s actual statement

We have to call “half time” on the Official FAI World Record attempt to First Circumnavigate the Globe by Autogyro Aircraft registration G-YROX.

This is primarily due to the fact that the very technically challenging section of the flight towards the Bering Sea has a seasonal time “gate”. Being so far north in latitude, it is deemed only suitable to navigate light aircraft by this northern “bridge” across the Pacific Ocean and International Date Line during the very briefest of summer months. By mid September, the harsh winter conditions are again closing in and access to the region shuts down once more and will remain so until the late spring of 2011.

GYROX’s various delays and associated adventures spanning half the globe during the 2010 northern hemisphere summer has meant we have had a very late arrival towards this gateway and we now feel it wise to pause before committing to the 3-4 weeks that would be needed to successfully cross these northern latitudes and see the aircraft continue safely down into the relatively warmer climes through Alaska and northern Canada. The fact that the days are now ever shortening, temperatures dropping and the weather becoming increasingly more changeable has made the decision to pause at this point all the easier.

The late spring restart will bring lengthening daylight and much more room for any subsequent delays (as I am sure there will be some - there always are!) or points of interest stop-offs en-route. The timetable will once again fall into line with the original expedition timings (albeit one year later) which will allow for a late May Bering Sea Transit and an early July Atlantic Ocean crossing.

Time then to pause and reflect on a fabulous “First Half” played out over half the world’s surface. GYROX has now flown a further straight line distance than any other autogyro in History crossing some 16 consecutive countries through 25 International Airports and taken in the delights of 45 different airports of all shapes and sizes from the 300m grass strip of Nong Prue, Thailand to the 3(!) active runways of King Abdulaziz (Jeddah) International, Saudi Arabia.

Broken down as follows

• Grass airstrips/fields 8
• Minor Airports 18
• Major Airports 19

So far we have made 7 major open water crossings of the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Bay of Bengal, Gulf of Thailand, South China Sea and Sulu Sea.

Forward planning continues during the winter season while GYROX is safely stabled for a well earned rest ready to take on the milestones of next year including....

• Continued lengthy over water transits of the NW Pacific Rim
• First transit by autogyro of the very remote and logistically challenging Russian Far East, Bering Sea, Alaska and Canadian NW Territories.
• A record setting coast to coast flight of North America.
• Overflight of Greenland and as a grand finale - the North Atlantic...and Home.


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A Press Release has been issued to local, international and aviation media representatives adding the following information.

• Norman will be flying back to Northern Ireland in the near future.
• G-YROX will be stored for the winter in the Philippines.
• The flight WILL resume next year.

To this, the Gyrox Team would like to add the following…

• Norman’s Blog, Facebook page, Website, Twitter page and Facebook Fan page will all stay active through the coming months, keeping you up to date with news about the flight.
• We expect to be adding new photos to the various sites as Norman returns home with 6 months worth of camera memory cards.
• Anyone who has met or seen Norman during the first half of the journey can help us chronicle the adventure by sending us their memories, photographs and videos that they have of Norman and G-YROX. (you will be credited if your content is used)
• Norman has listed the proposed route for next year’s ‘second half’ of the flight and we are looking for members of the public, enthusiasts and members of the aviation community who may live or work along his route who are able to offer assistance in any way to Norman when he flies into your town next year.

It is safe to say that a man of Norman’s resilience will be raring to go come next spring and we hope that all his fans will be there again spurring him on.

Thank you

The Gyrox Goes Global Team

Here is a quick reminder of the story so far…

March 22nd 2010 and Norman leaves Larne at the start of his adventure

April 5th and Norman prepares to leave Kythira in Crete to fly to a new continent: Africa

Norman has seen some amazing sights, including the Great Pyramids at Giza
The 'out of the ordinary' became 'normal' for Norman. For example, landing in the Saudi Arabian desert to refuel!
August 3rd 2010 and Norman arrives at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and is greeted by members of the Malaysian EAA
Norman prepares to restart his journey and 'Roxy' gets a good luck blessing from a Buddhist monk at Nongprue.
Halfway and 'Roxy' will be in the safe hands of the Angeles City Flying Club at Woodland Air Park until Norman returns to continue the flight of a lifetime.

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Become a Facebook Friend
For More Information go to the Website
Consider Donating to Norman's Chosen Charity: Bowel Cancer UK
Follow Norman and G-YROX Live on the Spot Tracker
Consider Joining The Authorised Facebook Fan Page
Find out more about The Angeles City Flying Club and Woodland Air Park

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