Monday, February 7, 2011

Birthday News and Flying Again

Today is Norman’s Birthday and he wants to thank everybody for the overwhelming amount of Birthday wishes he has received.

To say thank you he has written a detailed account of his recent trip back to the Philippines to carry out essential work on ‘Roxy’. He has also added a sub-note detailing the plans for his return from Woodlands to the UK. As you will see, Norman will be spending a large part of his Birthday somewhere in the air between Manila Airport and the UK, so he probably won’t be available today to reply personally to all of your messages of good will.

His return to the Philippines had been planned previously and it was our intention to make this trip a highlight for the start of the year but it is with the sincerest regret we can inform you that we were unable to let you know about this trip because of some serious technical issues that occurred at the Support Team base that kept us out of touch with Norman and offline for a prolonged period of time.
Hopefully the following post by Norman himself will make up for the lack of real-time information we tried hard to get to you but unfortunately were unable.

                    *      *     *

Philippines Revisited

In the last week I have been once more out in the Philippines to check on “Roxy” and to perform some necessary procedures to enable the aircraft to maintain its permit to fly for another year. Aircraft, like any other machinery, work best if they are used regularly. To leave the Gyro from September 2010 to May 2011 without any attention (particularly to the engine) would be very negligent and certainly in terms of best aviation practice a very unwise thing to do... pulling out your old Bicycle from the garden shed for the briefest of summer months might just mean a pump up of the tyres and a bit of oil on the chain and away you go. If the Gyro was left “in the shed” in this way it would quickly deteriorate from being an “active” capable flying machine into a “mothballed” assembly of parts that may (or may not) constitute a viable flying machine. To avoid the latter situation developing Jay Cook at Woodland Airpark has been doing a fantastic job of carefully maintaining a ground running program for the aircraft, a regime where all moving parts are regularly exercised on the ground.

Roxy's rotors disassembled ready for inspection

In addition to the ongoing groundwork, I have traveled out primarily to work through the re-permitting process and then to fly the aircraft locally for a short period.

The Annual Re-permitting actually began last autumn with the expiry of the old permit. Normally a survey of Aircraft and its associated paperwork (a process that often only takes a few hours) is all that is necessary to renew the permit for another 12 months. In our case I had the Aircraft paperwork to hand, but no aircraft!! Roxy, of course, being parked up half way around the world. This presented a dilemma, until the UK CAA in its wisdom was able to rustle up a workable solution, namely “our man in Manila”. As luck would have it, a Surveyor just happened to be travelling back from attending to other business in Manila and so it was duly organised that he would be able to stop off for a day and perform the physical inspection. So in a two part survey the paperwork and the aircraft were both scrutinised and a check sheet drawn up of minor works that would need to be attended to on the aircraft before the new permit could be issued.

Some elbow grease from Norman as the rotor blades are cleaned thoroughly

This then presented the next logistical challenge. Some small items such as some replacement Nylock nuts and a new rudder trim tab (which had got snapped off during some over enthusiastic ground handling en route between Thailand and the Philippines) had to be bought out and fitted, along with a Mandatory inspection of the rotor blade assembly (to be carried out every 100 hours of flight) . This latter requirement would involve the detachment of the main rotor from the rotor head and the removal of the 18 fine tolerance bolts that hold the blades to the rotor hub bar.

Roxy is looking good as Norman reassembles the rotors

So it was that on 26th January I journeyed out once more over half the world’s surface so that Jay (with CAA permission) and I could perform the various tasks necessary. After two days of ground works all the items on our list and the blade inspection had been completed, the aircraft logbooks duly completed and the evidence of same, photographed, scanned and emailed back to the UK. All was found to be good and the new Permit to Fly was issued, allowing Roxy to once more take to the skies. All I had to do now was remember how to fly it....

How does this go again?

Flying a gyroplane is a very “seat of your pants” sort of experience; Like riding a bicycle, once you have mastered the basic concept and control inputs, the maintaining balance bit becomes quite intuitive after some initial wobbly experiences during training school and early voyages of discovery around your local area (for bicycles read empty car park...) and like riding a bike once well learned these intuitive “backside skills “seem to be retained for a long periods between active flights.

However, where you do become much more rusty is in the mechanics of the return to flight - radio procedure, pre flight checks, start up procedures and take off procedures - all examples of the phases of the flight where you have to actively use your brain to recall processes, make decisions and act on judgment calls. In these aspects you are often very glad to be situated at a small, quiet airstrip with little traffic and none of the “hurry up” pressure signals that busier airfields can, by their very nature, inadvertently apply. By taking things slow and steady, thoughts are remembered in the correct sequence and actions taken safely and logically.

Often these processes occupy your brain to such an extent that you can be described as having your head “inside the cockpit”, you are not looking out of the Window at the bigger picture but you are preoccupied with the mental tasks of tuning the radio or setting a transponder code or entering a GPS Waypoint. With renewed practice, the sooner these functions become once again familiar and “second nature” the better, as some brain activity can then be redirected outside the cockpit to actually help in the flying of the aircraft.

In this way, once you’ve cautiously returned to the air and have established your head back in “flight mode”, the more your automatic backside skills start to kick again. This in turn gives more brain capacity for extra functions such as clearing airspace, setting course, monitoring gauges and of course, ultimately, hopefully, safely navigating your aircraft right around the world....

Norman with a pristine Roxy at Woodland's, both ready for the next leg.

Best Regards to all from the Philippines. (Where it is 30 degrees Celsius in the cockpit, just in case you’re wondering...)




Hi again,

Setting off back to Manila airport in about an hour - I have worked out that the flights west will allow me to experience my Birthday for 32 hours this year!! Not that it will be a party all the way of course, 14 hours are on 2 planes, about 15 hours in passenger terminals and 1 hour in an underground train to overnight with my Niece and Nephew in London. At least I then have the prospect of spending the last hour or two in an Arsenal High Street restaurant - that is if I am not falling asleep, face down in my French Onion Soup!

Will be in contact as and when I can en route.

Cheers N.

                    *     *     *

We all wish Norman a safe journey home and hopefully he will get a chance to celebrate his birthday with friends and family.
You may be interested to know that whilst Norman was flying in the Philippines last week he did have the ‘Spot’ tracker functioning (a good dry run for the upcoming resumption of his record breaking flight) and because the tracks of his flying stay on the site for a week you can check his recent movements around the Angeles City Flying Club based at Woodland Air Park on the Philippine Island of Luzon.

This will be especially handy for newcomers to the legions of Norman’s followers as following Norman’s flight in real-time was a main highlight of last years journey.

Click on this link to go to the tracker page where you can switch between map view and satellite view.
Check Norman's flights on the Spot Tracker.

Once again, thank you for all the birthday messages and keep checking the various GyroxGoesGlobal sites for updates and some new features coming soon.

The Gyrox Team

                    *     *     *

Become a Facebook Friend
For more Information, check out the Website
Consider Donating to Norman's Chosen Charity: Bowel Cancer UK.
Follow Norman's Flights, Live on Spot Tracker
Consider Joining the Authorised Facebook Fan Page

                    *     *     *