Norman's Technical Descriptions Page

Personal musings from Norman himself concerning aspects of the flight.

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Timeline link one

Describing the flight through the Apennines 

I had a good alternate airfield before the Apennine foothills which I flew over en-route, so I knew I had an escape route. I chose a very thin part of the Apennine ridge line to cross, it was cloud covered but the coll that I chose had a good gap below the cloudbase.

The wind was a tail-wind as I flew through the slot and the ground fell away dramatically on the other side. I had to allow for 'Rotor' wind (turbulence on the downwind side of an obstruction in the air). An Autogyro is just the best aircraft possible for allowing a controlled hovering descent down the backside of the mountains. G-YROX cut through the turbulence easily and by managing the rate of descent versus distance away from the very steep terrain (could be compared to side slipping down a steep icy section of Piste when skiing) I was able to lose height dramatically while remaining in the lee of the mountain range and quickly was able to drop below much of the rotor effect.

A helicopter would have had a more difficult descent with worries about Ring Vortex occurring in a rapidly descending hover. This is where a Helicopter falls through a ring of low pressure created by its own downwash - in effect it falls through a hole in the sky that it has made by its own downwash. Gyro's have the rotor turbulence above the rotor, the opposite effect to that of a helicopter and therefore have no ring vortex issues at all to worry about - we just continue fluttering down through the turbulent air.


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Timeline Link Two

Norman explains his preference for coastal flying 

I have rationalised flying over water in a number of ways. Yesterday's flight for example was a straight run from Kithera Island to Sitia in Crete. I looked at the route and considered as anyone would, the overland route down the whole length of Crete. However, on the day the sea breeze was a good 20-25 knot tailwind (I am happy to report) and it meant I was achieving 126 mph at times for an IAS (Indicated Air Speed) of 90-95 mph. Over the sea this air was stable and smooth, only the white wave caps below gave an indication of the wind strength, force 4-5 (and the groundspeed on the GPS of course!) - The same wind conditions over the undulating landmass of Crete would have been a far bumpier prospect with wind rotor over the backs of hills and general turbulence mixed in with a good dose of thermals from the hot afternoon surfaces.

Once accepting the fact that an engine failure over the water is going to mean testing out the liferaft, Ursuit Immersion suit, PLB with GPS (Locator Beacon) for real and then organising a diving expedition to recover the slightly wet Gyro to be rebuilt / re-engined and flown again (What a TV documentary that would make), Perhaps slightly wishful thinking, but it's not impossible in reasonably shallow water as long as the airframe was undamaged (How these words would come into there own a few weeks later...Editor) then the water option starts looking not that bad compared to the land option where the terrain on Crete is very rough and a safe out-landing without damage, especially in heavy turbulence, is certainly not a clear cut thing.

At least the sea has a more stable and predictable outcome and softer at zero forward airspeed! If you are going to fly over the sea at all then you have to take the correct approach and safety measures for proper sea survival. not just casually wearing a token life-jacket as you see many GA pilots don on their way across the English Channel for lunch. It may mean being 'boiled in the bag' on the ground (climbing into an immersion suit and extra clothes seems very bizarre in 25 degrees of heat on the ground). After that, whether you are only 2 miles from land or 200, if you are in a Gyro, with our glide ratio, you ain't going to make the shore anyway, so best be well prepared for it and then forget about it and use it to your advantage as I have described above. Give me stable weather and visibility over the sea over changeable and somewhat unpredictable cloud shrouded mountain flying any day!

Cheers for now. Norman

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