YAMHILL COUNTY, OR (KPTV) — Norman Surplus has achieved the adventure of his aviation career, traveling across the world in what is essentially a flying motorcycle, he says.
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.”
Surplus says he wanted to prove how a gyrocopter could endure a long journey.
“The aircraft, it flies at about, cruises at about, 80-miles-per-hour,” Surplus said. “It’s like flying a motorbike.”
Surplus says gyrocopters are seen as “the underdog of the aviation world”.
He says he rode in his yellow gyrocopter, “Roxy”, for his entire trip. He says the aircraft is very simple to fly.
He says the pilot’s right hand controls the rotor, and their left hand controls the throttle and a hand brake. Foot pedals steer the rudder, as well as the front wheel.
According to Surplus, the max time for each trek is about six hours, which covers 400 miles.
“So, 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 says he 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, and 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. He says 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.
Ketchell says he used to race motorbikes, so learning to pilot something that’s like a flying motorbike is something he fell in love with as well.