Man completes 9-year trek around the world in a gyrocopter
YAMHILL COUNTY, Ore. — Norman Surplus achieved the adventure of his aviation career by traveling across the world in what is essentially a flying motorcycle.
Surplus completed the record-breaking journey Friday, landing his gyrocopter at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, the same place he left from approximately nine years ago.
“It is a great way to see the world,” Surplus said. “I’ve flown through 32 countries. I’ve flown 27,000 miles.” He said he rode in his yellow gyrocopter, “Roxy,” for his entire trip.
Surplus said he wanted to prove that a gyrocopter could endure a long journey. “The aircraft cruises at about 80 miles per hour,” Surplus said. “It’s like flying a motorbike.” He said gyrocopters, which he described as easy to operate, are seen as “the underdog of the aviation world.”
According to Surplus, the pilot’s right hand controls the rotor, and the left hand controls the throttle and a hand brake. Foot pedals steer the rudder and the front wheel.
The max time for each trek is about six hours, which covers 400 miles. “What you do is, you take one flight, and you land somewhere, and then you wait,” Surplus said. “Wait for the right weather, maybe two or three days, and then you set off again.”
Surplus was in no rush to complete his nine-year journey around the globe. “We fly quite low,” Surplus said. “Maybe only about 1,000 feet. And from that height you can see people on the ground. They’re looking up and they’re waving, you can wave back…we saw bears, we’ve seen whales, moose. Lots of fantastic scenery.”
James Ketchell is at the helm of another gyrocopter. Ketchell used to race motorbikes, so he easily fell in love with learning to pilot an aircraft that’s often compared to a flying motorbike.
Ketchell said he learned everything from Surplus and is in the middle of trying to set a record himself — by getting around the globe even faster. “We’re on a pretty epic adventure, and it’s kind of coming to end for Norman. But for me, he’s kind of passing the baton to me — and I have to carry on and bring this back to the UK,” Ketchell said.