Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Having a Rubbery Time in Japan!

As Norman waits patiently in Japan to see whether the latest appeal to President Putin is successful, preparations to get 'Roxy' ready for the next flight continue apace. 

Norman has kindly sent us some photos showing the first stage in getting Roxy ready for the all important CAA inspection and in his own words describes the action...

Having a Rubbery Time in Japan!

One of the big challenges this spring, apart from seeking the elusive Russian entry permission… was the fact that the aircraft engine would need some additional maintenance over and above its normal routine servicing. As a precaution, Rotax engines are obliged to have all their rubber components changed periodically to prevent the rubber ageing and weakening while attached on the engine, which in turn could lead to leaks. So it was this year that I needed to arrange this task to be performed before the next CAA annual re-permitting inspection that allows the aircraft to fly on for another year. 
Jay Cook, like a surgeon, prepares for the clinical procedure ahead.

New Hoses, seals and gaskets were duly ordered up and I brought them out to Japan in a very battered old suitcase with only one roll along wheel….a bit too battered as it turned out as the dishevelled, Jet lagged foreigner limping along on one wheel in the ultra efficient Tokyo Haneda International Airport terminal soon drew the attention of the Customs men at security…some probing questions followed about the somewhat bizarre contents of my suitcase, but my equally bizarre explanation of needing all these rubber attachments to fix onto my own 5 metre long aircraft that I had flown all the way from the UK seemed to miraculously placate them - perhaps they are very used to seeing all the best jet setting international pilots roll up with one wheel missing on their luggage…
Make sure you remember how it all goes back in again!

The next piece of the maintenance jigsaw involved the reappearance of a previous GGG stalwart, namely Jay Cook, who seasoned blog readers may remember looked after Roxy in the Philippines during the winter of 2010-11. Jay volunteered to give me a hand with the hose change out job and duly arrived with tools and knowhow to lead the task of removing all the old hoses and replace with the new.
All go in the temporary GGG workshop

Now to look at a Rotax 914 Engine, you could easily be lost as to where to start with the Rubber Spaghetti that you are faced with. There are separate hose systems for oil, water coolant, air and fuel along with some further rubber components hidden deep within the carburettors. However taking one system at a time, we soon worked our way around, although not without plenty of battling with some of the more obstinate hose clips who would conspire to position themselves in the most awkward angles and hard to reach places. As Jay accurately predicted on the first day, we would probably both end up losing some skin on our knuckles in the coming week…
The scrapped engine hoses that had seen Norman and Roxy halfway around the globe.

Draining, changing out and then refilling the systems with their respective fluids, we then had the slightly nervous but most satisfying sensation of knowing there were no leaks and that all the tasks were complete. Engine testing followed to purge the systems of any possible trapped air and give all the seals a proper check while the engine was up to operating temperatures. With great relief on my part, the engine fired up first time and I am happy to report is now running very well again.

The final task was to meticulously go around all the newly installed pipework and check that there would be no rubbing or chafing on any surfaces. A quick trip to the local “Ninja boot shop” (see blog 29 Dec 2011) secured 2 metres of best quality, clear, reinforced, “aviation grade” (well, almost!) garden hose and yet another pack of cable ties (which along with Velcro is surely one of the all time best inventions of the 20th Century) with which to protect and sleeve any vulnerable hose sections.
Norman and the Shonai Airport Fire crew give the thumbs up to a job well done .

So the hoses were now complete but we still had to pass the CAA inspection…more in part 2, coming soon.


We will of course bring you part two of the preparations for the resumption of the world record breaking flight and to help make sure that it does go ahead please remember to keep sending those letters to President Putin requesting he let Norman fly through the east of Russia and complete this special project. The link to send letters is...

The Gyrox Team


Monday, May 27, 2013

A Personal Plea to Putin

As the months have rolled by, Norman, still ensconced in Shonai Airport, Japan, where Roxy has been housed since July 2011, has been resolutely trying to gain permission to enter Russian airspace to continue his record breaking circumnavigation of the globe in an autogyro/gyrocopter.
At every step he has been hampered by bureaucracy, secrecy and at times deaf ears. Frustration is now Norman's middle name.
Of course this lack of movement by the Russian authorities has kept us back at team HQ very quiet, not publishing too much in case we rock the boat in any way, but as we reach the 3rd year of this quest Norman has decided to bypass the usual paths of the Russian Civil aviation maze and go straight to the top...President Putin himself!

A few weeks ago, Norman decided to write a personal letter to the Russian President showcasing his plight in trying to do the simple feat of flying in the far Eastern portion of this huge country. He also showed in the letter that he has fulfilled all requirements subjected by the Russian Civil Aviation Authority and this includes hiring a Russian navigator to ride with him in Roxy. There appears to be no reason for the Russians not to grant a permit to fly there...but the latest attempt has effectively been met by a brick wall.

So why has Norman decided to write to President Putin now? It just so happens that on the 17th and 18th June this year the 39th G8 Summit of the world's top economically powerful countries will meet at the beautiful Lough Erne estate in Northern Ireland, not far from where Norman lives and the Gyrox adventure began. Amongst the G8 countries attending will be the UK, USA and of course...Russia with President Putin headlining the list of world leaders.

With this in mind, Norman has written to President Putin reminding him of the exceptionally warm welcome he will receive from the Northern Irish people and that it would show good faith on his behalf if the authorities could show the same kind of welcome to Norman and his little aircraft, after all, his flight is not just a record breaking flight but is raising awareness and funds for a number of Cancer charities.

Here is the letter Norman sent to the President...

An open letter to President Putin of the Russian Federation.
Dear Mr Putin,
My Name is Norman Surplus I am very pleased to hear that you are planning to attend the 39th G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Resort in my homeland of Northern Ireland. I am sure you will be afforded a warm welcome in our very small, but very beautiful country!
Currently, I am attempting to set an official FAI world record journey to make the first circumnavigation of the globe flying an Autogyro/Gyrocopter aircraft and to date, have made great progress flying through 18 consecutive countries from Northern Ireland, through Europe, Middle East, India and S.E. Asia to reach Japan. However, now I have been stuck (for almost two years) trying to get permission to fly through the Russia’s Far Eastern region to be allowed to fly onwards from Japan to reach Alaska. This is the only routing that is available to my small open cockpit aircraft to enable me to cross the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and making this short Bering Sea Crossing is only possible in the brief Arctic summer months. After crossing the North American continent I will then fly on through Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands to reach Scotland and then back home to my starting point in the port town of Larne in Northern Ireland.  
So far, I have been making all my applications (via the British Embassy) to your Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow for permission to fly across Russia, however we have had great difficulty in being given permission as my British Registered aircraft needs to fly outside (or below) the commercial international airways and also use some small, non-international airfields en route. Out of the 18 countries so far flown, Russia has proved to be the only country where this permission has proved to be so difficult. Being such an unusual request it is now thought that a special exemption / permission given directly from the Russian Government/ Presidents office would be needed to allow this flight to proceed and this is the reason for my sending this letter and appealing directly to you at this time.   
The circumnavigation flight is a small scale, non commercial venture, raising awareness and funds for Cancer charities. As per the rules for foreign aircraft flying within Russian domestic airspace, we already have a very experienced Russian Navigator ready and waiting to assist in the logistics of flying across the Far Eastern Region - a journey which is expected to take approximately 6-7 days.
We are asking to make our entry to Russia (flying in from Northern Japan) in the first week in June 2013. This is the earliest opportunity that the Bering Sea will be made passable by the sub Arctic summer climate and it also allows the flight to proceed with the benefit of very long hours of daylight.  
I therefore make this simple appeal to you directly; purely in the name of improved international cooperation and perhaps it can also be seen as a friendly, non political, non sectarian, “goodwill gesture” between our two countries, promoting the “spirit of outdoor adventure” for which you are well known! Simply put: as you are to be hosted in my country, that I could be similarly hosted in yours….to make a good news story for everyone!!
Best Regards, Norman Surplus

Norman is not putting all his eggs in one basket and is also hoping that we, all Norman's followers, can also write an email to the Kremlin pleading for the President and the authorities to let Norman in so he can continue and finish his amazing and worthwhile flight. You can send your requests to the Kremlin by email to...

This will take you to a website at the Kremlin and you will find a form to fill in and a box where you write your message. Remember to click the button marked 'Letter to President'.
One email may not make much difference but if we get a few hundred sent this week then someone will take notice!

Over the coming days we will keep you updated with any progress and also have a blog about the work done on Roxy to keep her airworthy and be re-certificated after all this time. There should be some nice photos to go with that, so keep watching our media pages for updates.

Good luck with your letters and lets make this a real attempt at getting Norman and Roxy home again.
Norman and Roxy, raring to go....

The Gyrox Team

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