Man starts mini helicopter flight from Oregon to UK after battle - KPTV - FOX 12

Man starts mini helicopter flight from Oregon to UK after battle with cancer

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A man took off from McMinnville Monday in an unusual aircraft, and he is determined to set a world record and make history.

When Norman Surplus isn't running his clean energy company in Northern Ireland, he's flying gyro-copters.

These basic, open-air helicopters were built 20 years after the Wright Brothers first took flight.

“This is my office,” Surplus said with a grin, pointing at the small yellow chopper.

He is clocking in for the biggest job (or adventure) of his aviation career: piloting his “flying motorcycle” from the U.S. to the U.K.

“In 92 years, none of these aircraft have every flown around the world,” Surplus said. “So it's amazing to think there's still that record that's still available."

That record is Norman's for the taking.

He plans to fly his whirligig from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine, up through Quebec, and across the Atlantic to the U.K.

Of course, surplus will stop for fuel and sleep, but he eats in the air.

"I quite like trail mix,” Surplus said. “That's a very good invention in the U.S."

Some stretches of the journey over water will be about seven hours long.

“I can't walk up and down the aisle and stretch my legs unfortunately,” Surplus said. “But you do have that time when you have your own thoughts and you can enjoy the flight."

So why would a smart, mentally stable business man take such a risk?

Surplus was diagnosed with bowel cancer and given a forty-percent chance of living only 18 months.

That was 12 years ago.

"Really, it's a message of hope,” Surplus said. “And to remain positive because you never know. In 10 years time, you may be flying around the world."

Surplus also feels a kinship with his gyro-copter, a little machine, doing big things.

"I suppose I quite like championing the underdog,” Surplus said. “And this type of aircraft is the underdog."

Surplus' journey will be documented on his Facebook page, and he encourages others to follow along.

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