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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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Countdown Begins!

We have heard from Norman, who returned to Japan last week, about his preparations to resume the world's first circumnavigation by an Autogyro. He describes in his own words the hurdles he has to overcome, created naturally or by bureaucrats, to return to the air for his pioneering flight.

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At the end of May another arctic spring time approaches and with it we have, once again, a seasonal chance to fly across the Bering Sea from Russia to Alaska, my only available routing to get across the Pacific Ocean. For the second year running I am now poised to recommence and (hopefully) complete my circumnavigation attempt, to return home from the other side of the world. I have recently again travelled out to Shonai Airport, Yamagata Prefecture, N.W Japan where G-YROX (aka “Roxy”) has been waiting patiently “en route” for my return and from where we shall soon depart for the remotest, vast wilderness of the Russian Far East. This section of the flight is by far the most technically challenging given that the settlements to be visited are very isolated and without roads in the northern latitudes (no roads equals no vehicles and thus no need for fuel stations…), so working the logistics for food, accommodation and fuel are of prime importance at the moment. There are “airstrips” (of sorts…) in just enough of these settlements to allow a transit to be possible and thankfully in our favour at least a Gyro can perform very short take offs and landings using some fairly unprepared surfaces.

No alternate landing field from Japan to Vladivostok
The Russian Authorities are currently making final checks with the en route airfields to make certain that they are currently open, secure and available (after the long winter of isolation) and ready to receive our flight. Once we have the final go ahead from Russia then we have to wait for the Japanese Authorities to have their turn at playing with the “red tape” machine, to process my exit clearance to allow me to fly out of Japanese airspace. (This can be a fairly lengthy exercise, lasting several weeks, drawing on our previous experiences of flight applications…).

Finally, once the bureaucratic “made by man” permissions are all in order, I can then give some (considerable) thought to the physical “made by mother nature” permissions; primarily those of Climate and Weather patterns en route for the lengthy open water crossing of the Sea of Japan. As we have seen, the climate has already dictated a wait in Japan for 9 months since the last summer season, but the weather and crucially the wind (both strength and direction) will of course have the final say “on the day”. Our maximum operational range on longer flights is usually around 450 Nautical Miles. As the “crow flies”, the straight line distance airport to airport from RJSY (Shonai) to UHWW (Vladivostok) is “only” 442 NM however, with (man-made) en route airways corridor protocol and entry procedures for Vladivostok air traffic control the actual flight from Shonai will actually work out to be around 460 NM…

It therefore follows that although I have a considerable margin of fuel reserves (my absolute range with full tanks would be something more like 525 NM) this only translates to around an hour of extra endurance in the air. To encounter a strong headwind on a flight of this overall distance could easily add an hour onto the journey time and this, remember, is a flight across the sea with no alternate airfields en route. It is therefore vital that the predicted winds on the day are either a nice tailwind to give me a helping hand or, worst case, a cross wind which has minimal effect on journey time, for or against. Thankfully predicting the wind (at least in the short view of a day or two in advance) is a well practised science and one which gives reasonably accurate results.
Therefore, in dealing with the wind, as with the lengthy bureaucratic process, I may simply have to sit and wait for the correct conditions to occur….
Looking decidedly chilly, Norman prepares to do some engine runs at Shonai Airport, Japan this week.                    
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It is great to hear from Norman and we at the Gyrox Team are gearing up ready to bring you all the latest news as it happens from wherever Norman is during the final stages of his record setting flight.

The Gyrox Team
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Roxy is Airborne Again!

We at the Gyrox team are very happy to announce that yesterday, 28th March 2012, Norman was able to take to the air again in his autogyro, G-YROX (Roxy); the first true flight since last July!

Roxy has been in storage at Shonai airport, Japan, since the circumnavigation was put on hold last autumn because of weather conditions and bureaucratic delays. But as the weather is set to clear and the bureaucratic problems are solved it was time to dust off the rotors, put all the bits back together and following engine test runs earlier this week, take to the air again.

As we saw on Monday, the supposed first day of test flying, the weather still had a bearing on the schedule as a massive snow storm grounded everything, but yesterday the snow was cleared and Norman was at the airport early hoping to get some comprehensive test flights in.

But, as is the case with flying and some would say...Murphy's Law, this first flight was delayed as a heavy rain storm crossed the area. It was strange that the whole of Japan was rain free except for that patch of sky over Shonai Airport!
The weather radar shows Japan is clear except for the area where Norman is. 
At least the airport staff let Norman wait out the rain in the airport office where he was able to keep warm and enjoy the hospitality as well as being supplied with cups of coffee.
Norman watches the rain outside the airport office window, flight suit and hot coffee at the ready.
But the rain did clear and it was a relief for Norman to finally don the famous red flying suit, start the engine and set the rotor turning and for the first time in many months Roxy taxied out to take to the air again.
Norman taxies Roxy out onto the rain-soaked taxiway at Shonai. Note the piles of snow still hanging on.
And, as though there had been no long term storage at all, Roxy lifted off for the first time this year. Not ideal conditions and the Japanese aviation rules kept all flying within the airport zone boundary but Norman put Roxy through her paces with some extreme manoeuvres aimed at testing all airframe and engine specifications. 
Norman and Roxy take to the skies for the first time this year.
This type of flying gave the assembled Japanese media and press who had arrived to chronicle the first flight, an impromptu airshow and hopefully helped the cause of the Autogyro for local flying. 
Following an hours test flying Norman brought Roxy gently back to earth and following a press interview tucked Roxy up for the night, happy in the knowledge that she had performed perfectly and that there were many more flights to come.
Roxy arrives back at Shonai after a successful test flight.
One interesting titbit of information followed Norman's return to his hotel for the night. While he was in the middle of sending photos and information about yesterdays flying back to us at team HQ, Shonai was struck by a mild earthquake! Norman in his indomitable way joked about how much the building was swaying...

Norman will be flying each day (weather permitting) from now until and including the 30th March.
Expected times for flying each day are...

02:30 to 03:30 UTC (GMT) and
06:30 to 07:30 UTC (GMT)

Make sure you check into the on-line tracker to see his flights live, link below.
We will give updates and hopefully more photos of the flying each day.
The Gyrox Team
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Monday, March 26, 2012

No Flying Yet!

For those who were expecting to see Norman and Roxy flying today and have been watching the Spot tracker for some kind of movement, we have an explanation, sent from Norman himself, as to why there is a hold-up and for once we can tell you that it is not caused by bureaucracy!

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Update on What is Happening

The Weather in Tsuruoka and at Shonai Airport has taken a decided and sudden turn for the worse...
Consider this first picture, taken just after I had put the Rotor back on Roxy a couple of days ago - you can see the arrival of the regular ANA flight from Tokyo in the background and the big piles of rapidly melting snow...
However now take a look at the conditions we were faced with  yesterday - supposedly one of the first days that I have permission to fly…this is the same ANA flight at its stand (and was subsequently delayed because of the severe snow storms). While standing in the hanger we actually heard Thunder up above! - this was actually a very snowy thunderstorm…
So it was little wonder that Roxy and I have had to sit it out for a little while longer before taking to the skies...
Norman and Roxy raring to go, but still firmly stuck on Terra Firma as guests of the Shonai Airport Fire Service.
 …the good news is the forecast is improving n the next few days so keep an eye on the tracker….


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We will of course keep you updated with any news of any flying as and when it happens,
The Gyrox Team
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