Monday, July 18, 2011

Breaking News! The Journey is About to Resume!

It is with the greatest of pleasure that we can finally announce, after 10 months of bureaucratic wrangling and logistical headaches that the GyroxGoesGlobal Circumnavigation attempt will be resuming on Wednesday the 20th of July 2011 when Norman departs from Laoag in the Philippines and heads out across the sea to Japan.

Just last week, amidst fears that the flight would have to be called off, the Japanese aviation authorities finally confirmed that they would permit Norman to fly the autogyro across their airspace. This had been a massive stumbling block to Norman’s continuance of the journey because in Japanese aviation rules there is no ruling that allows any aircraft under 500kg in weight to fly further than 3km from their local airfield. Seeing Norman intended to traverse the whole length of the Japanese island chain this meant that months of discussion had to be undertaken to persuade the authorities to make a special case for Norman’s flight, culminating in our recent ‘Embassy Appeal’.
Norman and Roxy have been patiently waiting for this day at Woodland Air park
Patience is a virtue they say, but Norman’s patience and persistence is a lesson for us all. His dream to be the first pilot to fly an autogyro around the world meant too much for him to ever contemplate giving up and today that persistence has paid off.
Norman and Roxy head towards the local volcano, Mt Arayat, during flight testing
Of course, just getting the Japanese authorities to say yes was not the end of the story. A whole new routing through the Japanese Islands had to agreed upon, a route that complied with the ‘special flight’ terms of the permit and then because of the long delays, the original permits to enter Russia had to be renewed, not the simplest of tasks when you are at a remote airfield in the middle of the Philippines.
The agricultural patchwork terrain around Woodland Air park
But Norman returned from the Russian Embassy in Manila at the weekend, new visas in hand and then came the task of uprooting from what had been Roxy’s home for the last 10 months.
Norman waves to the assembled press photographers
 
Time was of the essence as the permits had arrived a lot later in the year than what Norman was hoping for and the short weather window in the far north of the globe would close again leaving Norman stranded in possibly Siberia or the wilds of Alaska or Canada if he didn’t get away as soon as possible.


So in between packing and shipping things back to the UK (things that Norman had acquired over the months), closing up his accommodation and final checks on the aircraft Norman made himself available to the worlds media for a number of interviews and photo/video shoots. The Al Jazeera interview andvideo is available in the previous blog post.
A final au revoir  to friends at Woodland’s and the Angeles City Flying Club saw Norman strap himself into ‘Roxy’ and then depart this morning around 10am local for the 200 miles (324 km/174 nm) flight north to Laoag International Airport near the northern tip of Luzon island in the Philippines.
Norman demonstrates the inbuilt hand's off stability of the autogyro
It is from here on Wednesday morning that he will actually resume the record breaking circumnavigation as this was the furthest place he reached last year before flying Roxy back to Woodland’s to spend the winter in a dry hangar. There will be a large press contingent there to see him off as well as many new friends that Norman has made during his time in the Philippines.
Norman pictured on the apron at Laoag International Airport back in August last year. Little did he know it would be almost a year before he would return there to continue his journey
The first leg of the newly resumed journey may well be the most daunting of the whole journey since Norman left Northern Ireland back in March 2010. From Laoag he has a 730miles flight over the Philippine Sea, notorious for typhoons and thunder storms with just a few small islands dotted along his route. His first stop in Japan will be the Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa Island. This is the first airport that Norman will reach that has customs facilities and therefore must be the point of entry into Japan.

A map of the proposed routing across Japan. It is of course subject to alterations because of weather and air traffic control demands
Our attention will be on the ‘Spot’ tracker the length of that flight and you can watch it unfold live too by going to the ‘Spot’ tracker webpage where his track unfolds live before your eyes. A quick hint when using the tracker…switch to ‘hybrid’ mode for a Google Earth image with place names and sights superimposed on the screen, and you can use the scroll bar to zoom in or out. With the tracker updating every 10 to 20 minutes you too can be part of the adventure.


Finally, what can we say? It’s been a long time coming and everyone at the Gyrox Team, Norman and his family and friends included, have run the gamut of emotions over the last 10 months but it was all worth it. Our intrepid red suited aviator has taken to the skies again and the bright yellow autogyro is on her way home at last. Fair winds and happy landings to you both.

The Gyrox Team
We will of course be updating the blog daily with news from the journey as it happens.
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(Unless otherwise credited, all images on this blog are the property of GyroxGoesGlobal and may be used with prior permissionfrom gyroxgoesglobal@gmail.com)

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4 comments:

  1. Dorothy ThompsonJuly 18, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Great news Norman.
    Looking forward to following your resumed journey each day, until you once again land at Sandy Bay. Take care.

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  2. Fantastic news. Just goes to show that patience is a virtue!
    Like many others I will be following your journey with great interest whether it is with SPOT, the blog or the facebook pages.
    Best of luck with your journey Norman.

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  3. WTG Norman, looking forward to the rest of this fantastic adventure !!! good luck and lots of happy landings .....!!! Jane Forsyth Colou

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  4. Great news, Norman! Go for it!

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