Friday, June 12, 2015

A Tale of Time Zones, Mountains and States. Part One

As we all followed the snaking line that marked Norman’s progress from the west coast of Oregon into the Rockies it was easy to think that all was going very easily for our intrepid pilot in his tiny yellow Autogyro. But a 2D image, albeit a live tracker, does not show the realities of flying in this region.

Those of us, who have followed the flight since day one, back in 2010, will know that a departure followed by an arrival does not tell the story of the flight. For this we have relied on Norman to send us back reports and photos of the flights. But, as in all things technical, the vagaries of the internet have meant that although Norman is flying through the country that rules the internet, getting a good connection out in the Wild West is harder than when he was in the deserts of Saudi Arabia. This has meant that we get a knock on effect where Norman is a stop or two further on than the photos we are receiving.

Therefore, this is a recap, covering Norman’s progress so far.
Norman signing the display board that was used by the Evergreen Museum whilst Roxy was on display. With Stewart Bailey, the Museum Curator.

As we know, there were 2 start days…the first,2nd June, was a washout as Norman hit a wall of weather between McMinnville airport where Roxy had been based since last autumn and the Pacific coast, which meant he had to return to wait out the weather front.
The actual start of the flight happened on the morning of June 3rd, a much quieter affair compared to the previous day when the mass media converged on the Evergreen Museum to see Norman off.
Norman gives a press conference prior to his 1st departure.
All suited up and ready to go on June 2nd. Little did the media know that he would be back a few hours later.

But even though it was a grey day with low clouds, Norman decided that the forecast gave him a chance to get out and reach the ‘official’ starting point of Tillamook Airport on the Pacific Coast, west of Portland Oregon. 
Norman waves goodbye to small group who had turned out to see the 'actual' start of the journey home.  A good idea of the weather at that time.

On reaching the coast, he flew along the shoreline, thus making it a true coast to coast flight when he does the same in Maine.

Norman was once again hosted by the team at Sportcopter during his overnight stay in Scappoose before departing the next day, 4th June,  heading east across Oregon.
Norman taxi's out from the SportCopter facility where their team waved him off.

Norman waves bye to the team from SportCopter as he starts the 2nd day of the flight across America. 

Touching the southernmost parts of Washington State, Norman and Roxy followed the Columbia River through the Columbia Gorge as he made his way across Oregon to his next stop at the Hermiston Municipal Airport; set in a vast agricultural area made up of thousands of those circular fields created by an ever-moving irrigating arm that turns around a central pivot, watering an area with a diameter of up to 800 meters!
Not a square field to be seen!

Norman sent us this little anecdote of his arrival at Hermiston…

"Yes arrived Hermiston, only one elderly lady running the office, no knowledge of my arrival, seemed everyone else had gone home early.

No matter she was very nice and gave me a lift to the Best Western and also got the Gyro in a T hanger with open sides, so not so secure but out of the sun at least. She thought another proper hanger would have been possible had anyone else been around (this was all between 4 and 5 pm)."

We are preparing the next blog which covers the flights from Hermiston to Yellowstone Park and Cody. This will be coming very soon.
Remember to follow Norman live via his ‘Spot’ tracker by clicking this link…

The Gyrox Team

*     *     *

Thursday, June 4, 2015

And We're Off!

Yes, we can announce that the Gyrox Goes Global adventure is truly back on track and Norman and Roxy are heading home.
They slipped out of McMinnville yesterday during a break in the weather, catching us all by surprise, headed out to the Ocean so that the flight can truly be called a coast to coast attempt.

Norman sent us his clarification as to what happened yesterday and this is in his own words…

*     *     *

Hi everyone, yes the weather was still a mixed bag…on the way over to Tillamook I flew around a few big rain bursts. By contrast it was a nice bright breezy day by the coast and I spent an enjoyable 15 minutes or so flying up the beach at 75 mph at 20 feet.
I then waited on the ground for quite some time at Tillamook; the FBO guy was out in his truck on the airfield and I had to wait until he appeared back to sign the FAI forms (these are needed to claim various aviation records). I then took off around 4:00 pm to Scappoose where Sportcopter are based. 
Scappoose Airport

About an hour to fly back into the murky mountains following Highway 6 and I then had to loiter a bit and detour to the north at the last to avoid the worst of getting wet…a great feeling looking down at the still glistening roads after a heavy downpour and yet you are flying in the dry just behind it all…
Norman did notice when passing this newsstand that he has made the front pages!

I was very grateful for the big American sized Forestry logging trucks…being quite large means the forestry access roads are also quite substantial and so where it might appear on the tracker that I have been on occasions flying away from the security (in case of emergency landings) of the local public road network in the heavily forested mountains, it actually has been the case that there are some equally as good logging tracks to follow. These tracks are more temporary of course and probably won’t show on the satellite maps.

I am now in a very pleasant B&B at the end of the runway at Scappoose. Tomorrow, improving weather will allow me an earlier start circa 10-11 am, to head up the Columbia Gorge, following the Colombia River to my next planned stop at Hermiston Municipal Airport in NE Oregon.
The Beautiful Colombia Gorge

The Colombia River

*     *     *

We will be checking Norman’s tracker and will announce the departure on his Facebook pages.
You can follow Norman’s progress live whilst he is in the air by clicking this link.

For latest updates check out and ‘like’ the Gyrox Goes Global Facebook page.

The Gyrox Team

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rain Stops Play!

Many of you may have been wondering what happened yesterday when after a heartwarming departure from McMinnville airport in Oregon, in front of well-wishers, new friends and the assembled ranks of the media, why half way through his flight Norman turned Roxy around and returned to the airport he had not long left behind, for what he thought would be the last time.
All will be explained in Norman's own words...

         *     *     *

After a tremendous send-off day yesterday from both the Museum and from McMinnville Airport, the weather then decided to throw the proverbial spanner into the works!
I departed lightly loaded from the Museum, using the car park access roads: as good as they have been for all my various local flights of late they are not comparable to the 5,420 ft Main Runway sitting just across the highway at McMinnville Municipal Airport. So I landed there to load Roxy up with all my luggage. Re-packing the Gyro for the expedition flight was both nostalgic and frustrating...great to be finally getting loaded up for our 'Flying Road-trip' across America, the aircraft looks and feels much different when loaded heavy, but it's slightly frustrating too as various items in the luggage are always packed away in the wrong place.
On heading out from Larne originally, I remember it took me about 2 weeks to finally get every item in the bag or storage places that it needed to go in...and I expect it will now again take a few flying days to really settle in and get organised properly.

Once packed (approximately at least) and ready, I departed 'heavy', bound for Tillamook. I reached about half way to the coast before the broken confused cloud base, that had been flyable, became more organised and presented itself as an unbroken wall of white. As the mountain range and tree-lined ridge climbed, the cloud base reduced and soon enough the two met and closed the path ahead. I investigated a couple of route options, always mindful to retain my 'escape route' back out to the east, only to meet the same impassable conditions.
The point where the tracker showed something had changed

In the event it was a very easy decision to turn back, there was simply no safe passage ahead. This morning a similar weather pattern has continued and as I write this piece for the blog, I am very happy to look out the window at a very soggy and misty Aircraft Museum as it makes you feel much more relaxed when the vexing decision that has to be made by all pilots over whether to commit to flying that day or not is easily made for you by the weather.
Great weather for ducks...

Weather not so good for little autogyro's

Tomorrow the weather is looking to be improving, so hopefully we can saddle up once again and head off for them thar hills once more.



   *     *     *

We will of course bring you the latest updates as we get them, including any news on the re-start of the flight.

The Gyrox Team

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Great Day Has Arrived

Yes, it is finally here; 5 years and 2 months since Norman departed Sandy Bay in Larne back in March 2010; the start of the final phase of Norman’s flight around the World begins today, 1st June!

Norman has been at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum at McMinnville airport in Oregon for the last two weeks, getting ‘Roxy’ ready for the big day; undertaking local flights to check all is working well and making last minute adjustments where necessary. One of the flights included a stop at Sportcopter, a local Autogyro facility where the members gave Norman and Roxy a wonderful welcome which included some multi-ship formation flying to get some great air to air shots of our intrepid duo.
Norman takes a 'Selfie' whilst flying over the Oregon countryside

G-YROX, the MT-03 Autogyro, which has been affectionately named Roxy (an anagram of the registration), has been on show in the Evergreen museum since last autumn after arriving in the USA in a container from Japan. The long hoped for Russian permits to allow the Gyro to enter Russia and continue on to Alaska never came through as the authorities stuck their heads in the sand, ignoring all our efforts to make this a true circumnavigation. But, as we all know, Norman can never be called a quitter and over the summer last year a new plan came to fruition.
Norman and Roxy with the crew from SportCopter

Roxy is already the farthest flown Autogyro in history and already holds many FAI World Records for distance flown and times over set courses. But the new plan gives Norman and Roxy a chance at two new records.
1…To set the time for an autogyro to cross from the West Coast United States to East coast of Canada.
2…To be the first autogyro to cross the North Atlantic from North America to the United Kingdom, setting a number of other records for specific routes along the way...Canada - Greenland - Iceland etc..

Flying solo, with no following support, Norman will be hoping to meet up with like-minded enthusiasts and pilots along the way. He is always happy to chat and give talks to clubs and schools about his 5 year adventure, so if you are anywhere along his route and would like to have Norman as guest of honour please let us know. Contact details below.
Norman's famous TurtlePac fuel bladder is now firmly in place in the rear seat

Although Norman flies Roxy away from McMinnville for the final time today, he is not going far…just a short hop to the coast near Portland at Tillamook Airport. From there he will start the transcontinental flight to Maine on Tuesday morning with his first planned stop at Pendleton Municipal Airport, Oregon, in the North East of the state.

We will be giving updates regularly in this blog and on his Facebook pages as to the upcoming stops during his journey.
Norman affixes the SportCopter sticker to Roxy

Norman says that he has mixed emotions about today. Obviously he is raring to get back in the saddle and complete what he set out to do all those years ago but he will also be sad to leave behind all the good friends he has made in Oregon and especially at the Evergreen museum where Roxy has been well looked after by a really great bunch of people who really cared for our little yellow friend.
Norman feels comfortable in the fact that he will be flying through one of the most GA friendly countries in the world and expects to make many new friends along the way.
A fond farewell to friends from the Evergreen Museum

Anyone who followed the blog during the previous flights throughout the years will know that we liked to showcase not only the flying adventure but also the places and people Norman met along the way. Expect much more of the same during this second phase of the odyssey.

Norman is expected to depart McMinnville at around 3 pm local time today amidst a bevy of news and media crews.

You can follow his flights all the way back to Larne via his on-board ‘Spot’ tracker by clicking this link…

If you want to be one of those who would like to meet Norman on arrival at your local airport during his journey please send us an email to either… or

If you are from the media industry and would like to know more and how to get involved at some point please send an email to…
worldreachpr @

So all that is left to say on this momentous day is ‘Onwards and Upwards Norman and Roxy, the Emerald isle is beckoning”

Clear skies, fair winds and many happy landings.

The Gyrox Team