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Autogyro pilot breaks world record

25-Apr-2010 • Bond Style

Father-of-two Norman Surplus, 47, has now flown 7,118 miles since he set off from Larne as he flew into Kolkata, India - setting the new world record for the Longest distance flown in an autogyro.

Norman Surplus has gone through 12 countries including Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Pakistan, but still has a daunting 20,000 miles left to fly before his ambitious adventure is complete.

No one has ever managed to circumnavigate the globe in an autogyro, which is the predecessor to the modern-day helicopter that was made famous by an appearance in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

"I am looking forward to having a curry in Pakistan. When I told them I am from Northern Ireland they were all worried the food would be too hot for me but when I was in the restaurant I recognised most of the dishes from takeaways at home."

Norman said the most challenging thing he has faced so far is the heat in India. "It was 47 degrees centigrade earlier. As I was descending down from the 6,500 feet I usually fly at, it was just getting hotter and hotter and hotter, like flying into an oven," he said.

A spokesman for the record bid added: “He has also been nominated for another world record, speed over a recognised course — Larne, Northern Ireland to Alexandria, Egypt — according to the Fédération Aéronautique International (FAI) who are overseeing his flight.

“He has had many challenges along the way so far, including: overcoming bureaucracy in the Middle East, sourcing fuel in the desert, intense heat in central India while flying through freezing cold in high altitudes over the roasting deserts — and he expects more challenges to come on the next phase of the journey.”

By reaching Kolkata, Norman has beaten all previous Guinness world records attempts, including the 2004 Global Eagle expedition — in which the total distance travelled was 6,511 miles. That bid was abandoned because of a monsoon.

Next stop for Norman will be Bangladesh before he travels further east towards Thailand, the Philippines and on to Japan.

What makes Norman's journey even more amazing is the fact that, just five years ago, his outlook was bleak as he battled cancer.

But after months of treatment he beat the disease and was intent on breaking a world record, raising money and awareness for cancer research along the way.

He has set up a website where people can monitor his progress and even watch on the tracker system to see some of the fascinating sights that he passes along the way. It is also possible to donate money to cancer research and treatment by logging into his website at www.gyroxgoesglobal.com.

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