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World record is Norman's conquest

22 March 10 08:25 GMT

A daring pilot from Larne has set off on a record breaking attempt to fly around the world in a tiny autogyro aircraft.

Adventure sportsman and cancer survivor Norman Surplus has been planning the 27,000-mile journey for two years and it will involve stop-offs in 25 countries.

Circumnavigating the globe in a gyroplane is something no-one has achieved to date.

"The first gyroplane flew in 1932, that's 87 years ago, and to date no autogyro pilot has flown around the world and it's the last type of aircraft in existence yet to do so," Norman said.

"I felt some years ago this record needs to be set, so I set about planning the expedition. It's probably about two years in the planning. I must say the planning process, the organising process is probably going to be as arduous as the actual flight."

As well as setting a gyroplane record, Norman intends to raise awareness of bowel cancer. He said he only learned to fly after his treatment had ended.

"I was an "inmate" of the Belfast Cancer Centre. It was obviously quite a difficult time. At that time the prognosis wasn't great, I didn't really know what the future held. I'm very pleased to say I have come out from the other side of that, as much as you can tell," he said.

"I would like to put something back for Cancer Awareness and I thought this was the sort of thing I would like to be involved in.

"Also I would like to provide encouragement for people who are in that situation now, because, obviously, it can happen to anybody at any time."

Norman said the autogyro had enjoyed a new lease of life in the past five to ten years.

"In the United States, before the war, they were landing on skyscrapers and flying coast-to-coast until being sidelined with the advent of helicopters.

"When you land on an air field, it's a bit of a head-turner. People say, what is that thing, it's not a helicopter, it's not a plane. It has something about it that is unique.

"It's quite intriguing to head off from Sandy Bay here in Larne, heading in one direction, you keep going, and ultimately end up arriving back from the opposite direction and you haven't actually turned around."

Norman's aircraft will carry a spot tracker so that his progress online can be followed online.

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