Thursday, August 13, 2015

A huge thank you from Norman to everyone that has helped with the Gyrox Goes Global project right around the world.

The mission has been completed! A 5 year Odyssey around the world by a quiet and unassuming gentleman from Larne, Northern Ireland, in his tiny out of the ordinary flying machine, now affectionately called 'Roxy', came to an end just after 7 pm on the 11th August 2015 as the pair touched down on the Sandy Bay Playing Fields in Larne...5 years 5 months after they had taken off from there. 
The crowds that greeted Norman on his arrival were mirrored a hundred fold by the congratulatory messages sent by well wishers from around the world.

Norman has written the following message to thank everyone for their undying support for him and Roxy over the years as well as to all the people everywhere who helped make the homecoming something special.

Norman's words....

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There are so many people in so many countries that it is difficult to mention everyone personally at this point, but rest assured that every single act of kindness and assistance no matter how large or how small, has helped to make this trailblazing flight the global success that it has now become.
Norman and Roxy about to complete the 5 year journey
It has shown me that time and time again in so many far flung places around the globe, that the true spirit of adventure, compassion, generosity and curiosity lies deep within every single person that I have had the very good fortune to meet along the way. We each share a common bond, a common humanity to give help to other humans in time of greatest need. You have all recognised this need at crucial points of the journey and have readily directly or indirectly volunteered and given necessary assistance in recognition of that fact, the numerous FAI World Records that have been set by this circumnavigation flight in reality should belong to all of us....without the contribution and cooperation of everyone that has managed to keep the project moving through the many challenges and pitfalls both in the air and on the ground, the flight could simply not have been able to complete any of its overall objectives at all.
Norman and Roxy are swamped by the media and well wishers on arrival
 In a way I suppose "Roxy" has been a catalyst, the glue if you like, that has remotely bonded so many diverse peoples from so many diverse cultures and countries to work together for a common purpose, a simple goal; to simply help to see this littlest of aircraft achieve the biggest of dreams, to win out against all the odds stacked against it and to safely and successful achieve a pioneering Autogyro flight right around the world.
You have all made this possible!
The co star of the show....Roxy 
For now, Roxy is enjoying a well-earned is a picture meeting the new neighbours, a curious bunch, showing that all so familiar reaction...."what is that thing that has just dropped out of the sky, don't tell me it is actually capable of flying right around the world?! " We now all know the answer :-)
Roxy arrives home, the countryside of County Antrim, to be greeted by some curious locals :-)
And a big thanks of course to all our legions of online followers as well... perhaps not able to physically give the actual "hands on” assistance, none the less you have all helped tremendously in supporting the physiological effort and encouragement that this type of journey requires... Flying Solo, as the name implies, can be a very lonely business especially in the most remote and hazardous corners of the world and simply knowing the SPOT tracker is being keenly followed online by so many dedicated "virtual adventurers" has assisted greatly in not feeling quite so isolated up (and out) there....
The final update from 'Spot' shows the journey completed
My next immediate challenge is to record and account for the multitude of experiences and stories that have occurred throughout the journey, many of which have not been shared publicly as yet. Only by writing it all down as a book will I be able to begin to share the full story of the flight, the many adventures, mishaps, tricky situations and miraculous escapes that more often than not could simply not have be imagined before the flight had commenced.
I best get started!!
The family reunited
 My best wishes and warmest thanks to you all.


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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Norman and Roxy have a memorable time in Nuuk, Greenland

Norman finally arrived in the capital of Greenland, Nuuk after numerous delays caused by weather at his stops in the the wilderness airfields in the far north of Canada.
His lengthy flight from Baffin Island across the Davis Straight to Greenland was one of the most spectacular he has undertaken. He reported back that he flew over many large ice floes as well as the occasional Iceberg, the hidden majority of these watery peaks gleaming blue through the crystal clear icy waters.
He also saw a number of Polar Bears who looked as though a red suited gyronaut would make a lovely snack for them!
Icebergs showing their hidden depths!

But Norman made it safely to the airport at Nuuk where he was greeted and looked after by local pilot Dan Rasmussen. We had arranged for another pilot to meet Norman but the delays meant that he was away on the actual arrival day, but he had sent a heads up to Dan who was more than willing to come out and help Norman.
Dan Rasmussen with Norman

Dan was not only able to advise and support Norman with the aviation details at Nuuk and find 'accommodation' for Roxy but also saw to it that Norman had a good time during his stay in the capital.

They always find space for Roxy when she arrives at a new place :-)
Dan was also kind enough to host Norman and Norman was able to experience the real atmosphere of living in this community at the edge of the icy world.
Enjoying food and drink...Greenland style

Out and about learning how the locals survive in these inhospitable climes

Showing a youngster where Roxy and Norman had been before

There was also a heart stopping moment that lasted 2 days when another pilot went missing.
We at Norman's support team had also been in touch with another circumnavigator, Russian Sergey Ananov, who was flying around the world in a Robinson R22 helicopter. It turned out he was a day behind Norman and was due to arrive in Nuuk the day after Norman's arrival...this seemed a good opportunity to have two rotary circumnavigators at the same spot on the globe at the same time...a great photo opportunity and a chance for the two adventurers to chat about their experiences.

But as Norman waited at the airport for the arrival of this little helicopter it soon became clear that something was wrong as the hours passed and no arrival. Norman contacted us and we contacted the Russian team and it was soon announced that the helicopter had indeed gone down in the Davis straight...the same area Norman had flown across the previous day...complete with Icebergs and Polar Bears.

It was two days before we got the good news that he had been found by a rescue ship, clinging to an ice floe, surrounded by Polar Bears! Norman was happy to receive this news and so prepared to continue to Narsarsuaq at the southern point of Greenland ready for his coastal flight North to then make the jump across the Atlantic to Iceland.
Watch a TV report about the rescue by clicking this link

Norman did depart Nuuk on Sunday for the flight to Narsarsuaq but that is another story...
Filling up the TurtlePac in the usual way
With an eye on the weather, Norman prepares to depart Nuuk

'Good Bye Nuuk, it was great to know you'

We would like to thank Dan Rasmussen for all his help in Nuuk and especially for letting us use his great photos of Norman and Roxy. We would also like to thank all of Dan's friends, the airport staff and locals in Nuuk for making Norman so very welcome.
Nuuk gets a special place on Roxy's rudder :-)

The Gyrox team

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Winter Woes in the Middle of Summer

If you have been wondering why there has been no movement on Roxy's tracker or many updates as to the onward journey North through Canada...then all will now be explained.

Norman departed the airport at Schefferville on Friday the 10th July after a short but pleasant night in this remote Iron-Ore mining town in the remote Canadian wilderness. It was due to be a long 5 hour flight further north to the Inuit named, Kuujjuaq, a small but busy community near the northernmost coastline of mainland Canada.
Norman, about to depart Schefferville

It turned out in the end to be a trouble free flight with good weather, plenty of blue sky and favorable winds that shortened the flight time considerably. The most noteworthy thing that Norman reported was the complete lack of human presence for the whole of the flight. Not another human being was spotted once between Schefferville and Kuujjuaq!
A hundred thousand lakes but not a single fisherman.
The trees are thinning out...a sure sign of nearing the frozen north

Norman arrived at Kuujjuaq and was greeted by a team from Air Inuit who had stepped in to look after Norman's arrival because the airport handlers had gone away on vacation! Air Inuit is what we would probably call a 'Bush Airline', flying smaller aircraft between the remote communities in Northern Canada. It does have larger jet airliners for use between the southern cities but up here in the widerness you are more likely to see a Twin Otter or King Air on the ramp, which was great for Norman and Roxy who fitted right in straight away.
Arriving at Kuujjuaq. The water on the right is the Koksoak River.

The guys at Air Inuit helped Norman find accommodation and joined him for dinner where the chat was all about flying small aircraft in these high latitudes. Norman had intended to spend a full day in Kuujjuaq to have a rest after two long and draining flights and also to give Roxy a quick check over before the flight over Ungava Bay and the Hudson Strait to Iqaluit on Baffin island, now more correctly called Nunavut. Iqaluit is not only the capital of Nunavut province but also possibly the last stop in North America before Norman and Roxy fly to Greenland. We say possibly the last stop but this is all down to weather, especially wind directions which may mean another stop further north in Nunavut.
But all plans for that next flight to Iqaluit came to a sudden halt the following morning when the weather reports from our contacts in Iqaluit showed any kind of arrival was out of the question due to a 200 ft ceiling and heavy rain. This was also bore out by the scene outside Norman's accommodation that morning...
Great weather for ducks but not for Gyro's
It then became an hourly vigil of the weather reports, both at Kuujjuaq and from Iqaluit...the Gyrox Team were poised to let the world know that Norman was flying again and Norman was ready to jump into his famous red suit and brave the elements...but, it never happened.
The weather remained bad in Kuujjuaq and actually got worse in Iqaluit with fast, freezing winds blowing straight into the path Roxy would take.
A wind map designed to halt any slow aircraft heading east.

But Norman has faced longer delays, many times in the past and instead of moping about decided to explore the world of the Inuit and the frozen (ok, muddy) north.
Norman selfie in Kuujjuaq main street...Note the sign in English and Inuit
On a trip to a supermarket, Norman was surprised to see how well stocked it was...including paddles and fully set up fishing rods stacked alongside the cold drinks and M&M's.
I'll have a Cola light, a bag of apples and a paddle please :-)
More strange sights greeted Norman as he made his way around the community...
Not many trees this far north so maybe it's an Inuit Totem made out of local stone?

Not much snow yet but sledges and Skiddoos are everywhere...

Local churches are designed to cope with the weather and not to look pretty.
Large pieces of machinery abounded...with no obvious idea of what they are used for.
Being a remote community, everything has to come in by air or sea. Norman was amazed that the fuel storage center gets one delivery a year and it arrives by sea.
Kuujjuaq's fuel terminal
So, what happens next? We can say that Norman is being magnificently looked after by his new buddies from Air Inuit and it is now a waiting game, not only to see how the weather improves at Kuujjuaq, but also to make sure it improves for all the upcoming legs of this historic journey.
We will of course keep you all updated as we get the latest news...

The Gyrox team

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Norman heads into the Canadian Wilderness

Norman has departed from Schefferville airport where he stayed the night. He is now heading further north across the Canadian wilderness to the first of a long line of airports whose names would make a great Scrabble score! First stop - Kuujjuaq on the river Koksoak near Ungava Bay. 
Kuujjuaq in the far north of Quebec Province

He will also accomplish a first just a few miles after departing Schefferville...the first time he has flown further North than at any time since he left Larne 5 years ago! Both Larne and a point 3 miles north of Schefferville lie at 54' 51" N Latitude...
Kuujjuaq terminal...civilisation in the tundra!

Norman had an interesting stopover in Schefferville, an Iron Ore mining town, where everything was covered in a rust coloured dust! Luckily, the guys at Air Inuit found a place for Roxy to spend the night and saw Norman safely ensconced in the town's 'modern' hotel.

'Roxy' all tucked for the night in Schefferville

The flight yesterday was quite an epic one and Norman reported that he saw only two other human's during his 5 hour flight and crossed only one road! Today's flight is into an even more barren area where Norman's only hope of a diversion landing would be on the permafrost or a convenient lakeside. But at least Kuujjuaq is a bit bigger than Schefferville with more cafe's and a post office, it even has a small beach... wink emotic
Norman's hotel in Schefferville

Rust-dust is the prevailing colour as seen from Norman's hotel room

Follow Norman's route via the onboard tracker - Spot

We apologise for the lack of blog posts recently, this has been due to workloads and logistics of getting information back.

A series of catch up blog posts is being prepared to bring the flight up to date.

The Gyrox Team


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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

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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…

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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

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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